I fell from sealmother’s
liquid womb onto fast-ice
and she suckled me with her thick
milk and kept me, fifty days.
We lived in the wind.
Under the ice in no-light
trills, buzzes, thumps
filled the water and rang in my body.
I scraped breathing holes with my teeth,
held my breath, slowed my blood,
sank deep, breathed out
bubbles to flush the icy fish;
devoured silverfish, squid, octopus,
giant toothfish, bald notothen.
A male bit my neck and gripped me.
A cub curled inside me. I bore
many cubs and let them suck. Left them
when the time came. My teeth
worn to nubs, skua will make
quick food of me when I starve
above the ice. Or if my carcass
drops to the sea floor, red
sea stars, worms, and flesh-eating
amphipods will slowly cover
me and devour my meat.
I’m standing in wind,
seal flesh still warm.
(From Blue Hanuman, copyright © 2014 by Joan Larkin. Published by Hanging Loose Press, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217, http://www.hangingloosepress.com. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any medium, print or electronic, without the publisher’s written permission, except for brief quotations in reviews.)