if you see me being swept out to sea,
haul me ashore, with net or by hook
in the corner of my mouth
press two fingers under my jaw line;
feel not for pulse but for slit,
a constant open-and-shut,
the out-stream of water
touch this skin; touch all of this skin;
feel for silver scales,
a web of spiny bristles growing
from the midline of my back
see if my fingers have fused into fins
to part the sea instead of legs,
to plunge into new darkness,
new depths, new salt
ask the men who have feasted on me
if they ever had to dislodge
my bone from their throats
In Jamaica, the word ‘fish’ is used to derogatorily refer to homosexual men.
I’ve been wanting to trade my back,
this broad collector of lack and lashes.
Exchange it for land, a plot
of unploughed peat, rich with cattle shit.
Trade for seeds these lymph nodes
scattered in the soaked earth
of my groin, these veins too for roots;
let tree trunks
shoot through my skin’s topsoil.
I want rows of sugar cane instead
of welts across my acres.
The maggots harvested from orchards
of corpses stacked
in the burlap bags under my eyes,
trade them for the supple limbs of light.
Trade the length and flow of hair
for the rivers.
This breadth between my shoulders,
this saddle, this reflector of moonlight,
trade it for the sea—the wide conveyor
of cargo, the source of salt,
the cemetery of dreams.
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