• Self-Portrait as a Body, as a Sea

    Donika Kelly

    Fall 2017

    I am a body schooling,
    a ball of fish, flashing
    and many, in these early days
    of feeling, of love.

    When I learned,
    hours ago, of fish songs
    that swell like birdsong
    in the morning,

    how they foghorn or buzz
    for food, or mates
    or space, I thought,
    now aren’t I a humming thing?

    Yes, you say,
    a body of oceans
    and marvelous.

    And the sea anemone in me,
    growing on the wreckage
    of an old ship—

    can they grow that way,
    I wonder, on an ending—

    Still this bright and tentacled
    anthozoan polyp,
    which reaches and filters
    whatever it needs
    from this strong current,

    and the current too that carries
    the sea cucumbers,
    the rough mammals,
    the life, both vertebrate
    and invertebrate,

    even th

    Donika Kelly is the author of Bestiary (Graywolf 2016), winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and longlisted for the National Book Award. She teaches at St. Bonaventure University.

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