our translucent bodies

by Devin Miller

we have become translucent as jellyfish;
the water has changed us.
it happened slowly. over time I learned
the shape of my mother’s bones,
the seagrass strands of my sister’s veins,
the shivering of my love’s heart.
our skin still resists the pressure
of fingernails and jagged shells and the deep.
it still protects us.
but we are not safe; we are changing.

the cold sea tastes different to us
than it did to our grandmothers.
rocks where we used to sun ourselves
see only water-rippled dimness.

our bodies’ borders have become invisible.
I reach for my sister’s wrist bone
and grip too tightly; I press my teeth
to the curve of my love’s belly
and cannot see I have left marks,
have left scars, have left tenderness
behind me. though it’s hard to forget
we are fragile, when we can see each pulse,
each expanding and contracting
of each other’s lungs.

the fish still shimmer when they swim
within reach of the sunlight.
the whales are still massive grey islands,
bulky bodies in the dark.
only we, we people of the salt, have changed.

we look to the jellyfish for advice.
how do you love a person you can see through?
how do you bury dark truths in a belly
full of starlight?
how do you swim onwards, knowing
you may never reach safety?

and the jellyfish tell us:
every creature is more than the curve
of its domed translucence, 
more than its shaking tendrils.

we have become translucent as jellyfish,
but they have taught us:
swim onwards. let your darkness
sink to the ocean floor. love the
sinew and spine of your family.
you may never reach safety
or stop changing, but swim onwards. 
you cannot see all the way
through the ocean.

© Copyright Devin Miller

Devin Miller is a queer, genderqueer cyborg and lifelong denizen of Seattle, with a love of muddy beaches to show for it. Their short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies; previous poetry can be found in Liminality and Abyss & Apex, and on select King County Metro bus terminals. You can find Devin and their cat on Twitter @devzmiller.

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