portrait of a girl in water

by Ashley Bao

she has black hair floating in the seafoam, a crown 
for a body freckled with emerald scales, constellations
on coffee-stained skin. as dark clouds paint the daylight
with smoke and tears, as the sea seeps into the black
rocks of shore, she croons an old song. even the crabs
creep from their burrows and crane their necks to listen:

Come here, come home.

her voice a choir of crashing waves. the ocean keeps
its tongue secret from women, but i see her lips,
red as coral, move to a melody once moored to
the seafloor, now weaving a mirage across the sea.

with angelfish tangled behind her ears, she wraps
seaweed around my arms. her breath is brine and 
broken glass, her chest colder than night,
her body two strands of a braid that weaves me in
as the third. she has black hair and it binds 
my lungs to hers, inhale becomes exhale,
sea-soaked air becomes salt-soaked water. 

Come here, come home.

the crabs return to their burrows. 
the tides turn back to the moon.
the sky has cried enough today.
the girl in the water has a bride to consume.


© Copyright Ashely Bao


Ashley Bao is a Chinese-Canadian-American high school senior. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Liminality, Strange Horizons, Cast of Wonders, and elsewhere. She may sometimes be found looking at cute cats on Twitter @ashleybaozi.


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