Getting There

The bodies of fish inhale memory of air in deepest water.

Luisa A. Igloria

The bodies of fish inhale
memory of air in deepest water.
They slide through rusted portholes
of ruined ships, the elongated
keyboards of dead sailors’ ribs, hollow
sockets where a green flush of filaments
and bouquets of sea-anemones
surprise, weaving visions of coral.
The sea undulates in layers, its planed
surfaces the resistance to swim through:
such heavy music, recitals of sharks’
teeth falling like indigo notes on a scored
page. We swim sometimes with desperation
through channels filled with nothing
but the guidance of our own labored
breathing; or with that slow fandango,
clotted blood and honey, the siren
song of centuries. How it breathes
in our brains; how we fold into ourselves
repeatedly, learning tricks of diminishment
and scale— The better to skim through
water as though water were only air,
a portal which takes the shape of light
fanning open, or the wake
of an endlessly passing boat.

LUISA A. IGLORIA is the author of 14 books of poetry and 4 chapbooks. In July 2020, Governor Ralph Northam appointed her as the 20th POET LAUREATE of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In April, she was one of 23 Poet Laureate recipients nationwide of a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets.

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