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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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