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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