By | 1 February 2022

I’ve heard when you drown it feels peaceful

Like floating in the womb

In a homespun shroud of blue water.

You found another way

Far from the sea, the salted shallows

The paperbark trees that lined the tracks like a church

And the skeletons of cuttlefish you carved into stories

With your fingernails.

Stranded in the red dirt

Under a sky so high and wide

When it yawned, it swallowed you whole

You curled up small

Sank into those endless plains of nothing

Turned your face to the dust

And ate what you could.

It hurts less each time, you told your daughter as a comfort

Slips down your throat like a fresh-shucked oyster

You don’t even notice the taste after a while.

There’s nothing in our archives

Only your first name, a quiet imprint

Among the faded cascade of blood ties

The women in our family

Lost or unspoken

Washed away in the tide of our men.

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