Shipwrecked, by Gretchen Tessmer

sea girls are wrestling red tigerfish

while Margaret
gathers up
wet bones in a basket
with a howl
of wind blowing
cicada shade
through dank and damp corners
of deep-mouthed
ocean caves

her oars dip in and out of shallow water

the hot wheeze
of hazy, humid days
breathe in
breathe out
the bathwater tides
roll in
roll out

sailing by shore, she waves at white skeletons

in forced repose
some at tea
on sandy beaches
some reclining
in the jungle shade
all without clothes
              (the sea girls claimed those)
wearing eerie smiles
under withering
and dead-faced

. . . brave, it’s important to be brave

while dredging up old friends
from watery, unmarked graves


Gretchen Tessmer lives in the U.S./Canadian borderlands. She writes both short fiction and poetry (way too much poetry), with work appearing in Nature, Strange Horizons and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, among other venues.

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