Dehydrated Seahorse

The pose she holds hurts.

She is folded, her weight settled hard upon her trumpet. She is crimped and dissonant, bent on a seam in her shell that was always at least a lie to her. A lie until machine pips drank her water veil away from the true scaffold, showed just how she fit together, mere parts and pieces. So many seams.

And in her hasty making, some sip or bubble kinked the wind and deflated her, brought her instrument down. Here she lay, bone-brittle against the plastic womb, her purgatorial egg. And she slept not at all for years, and never dreamt, for seahorses do not dream, never dream at sea.

Yet this too was a kind of sea—an endless bulging horizon, enclosed, total, like ours—a nested fluid stillness and we watching and never understanding its dimensions or our place in it. And she watched that unspooled line, the seam of the pinked egg, looking for any sign it might loosen or fray. She could slip out maybe if the thread breathed, even wanted a breath.

Indeed, before this brick of dust and dead air descended, it was perfect. It was perfect, this gumball treasure cube—confectionary shells shaded in rainbowed veils, toy magicals inside. Perfect when grandpas muttered and softly gummed and tossed their pockets and shifted their feet and children held out sticky palms and begged for coins and some were given and the diamond plate turned and an egg was set free.

But cloistered apart from water is more than dry. Rescinded animation. Pregnancy controverted and the proper pangs too denied. Death unrecorded, unfulfilled, unmourned…

Then one day it rained.

This was no ordinary rain. This rain wanted in. It wanted in hard enough that the windows and doors were boarded and nailed and all the nailers and boarders went speeding away. But still rain came—like child vandals, then a drum corps, then artillery, then a wash of tin stippling and wood thunk that sounded like a great idea crumbling.

And then a drop pushed through and upon the treasure cube and she felt it. It fell and worked through the dust and made mud rivulets over the whole glass universe.

And at last, at first, she dreamed.

She dreamt of her body rebirthed by fugitive waters—of cascades and falls and abysmal black pools and celestial vapors…

 

Of St. Croix, listing to port upon saltwater icecubes

Of Norwegian steam baths, her body laid smooth upon smoking rocks

Of a Blue Whale’s geyser—puff-tossed and sunblazed and drinking and falling

 

Of tiny pipettes

Engorged perfumes

And a mist, shameless and swollen.

 

She dreamt even of a wetness unto drowning—of unsated tsunamis, tropical death-baptism and a resurrection by chamois-handed priests.

And through the keyhole, a drop sank.

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