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If I were lighter and more buoyant, My bones not of lead Nor my humors of mercury, Then this ocean floor may not have Chewed the soles of my feet so savagely. If only you, Herophile, had been My sandals or cast the Hooded One To walk alongside me Beyond this aquarium of audience.

Washed ashore by the unforgiving tide, Entombed under windswept dunes, The blowing sand eroded my eyes Into graves, hollow and grim. I, victim of Hera, held tightly To seashell books, tracing their patterns anxiously, My trembling fingers venturing their bounds.

A barren cadaver, fetal-postured, Sits in the arid Andean Highlands With its architectural framework held fast By chords of tendon and camelid fibers As an army of silkworms circumvolves the bones, Spinning tightly-woven and brightly-dyed Death-blankets of wool and cotton. Layer after layer, the bundle grows to a heaping mound,

As caricatures of shamanic trance Sewn with metamodern foresight Are woven into the textile’s patterned canvas. The charming embroidered icons Sing loudly and cry out to the stars Until two twin moths tear strand from strand To crawl, dampened, from the tangled birth-nest. The skeleton moth rattles its bone-wings As it spins circular glyphs in desert sands, Its left wing too cumbersome for flight. The spirit moth soars and sparkles, Weightless in the moonlight, Dancing with the spirits of Peruvian mountains In celestial fireworks of glitter and ash.

Unfurling under the searing sun, I’ve dictated seashell dreams To impotent scribes, deaf and limbless. Contemplating desert sands from a house of mirrors, Eyeless, pot-bellied, and blistered. I’ve traced water lily roots to the wellspring. There, sprites quaver muffled hymns With rags packed in their mouths And ghastly spirits rattle about In cramped prisons of plastic bliss.


Derek Engen

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