Unharbored Elsewhere, by Rayji de Guia

You wash ashore,
    cheeks sun-bleached,
              by a burst
    of barnacles
                 as brine rushes in
           the gash
             of your neck, and out. Unbodied
must feel like living anew. If I pry
                 the shells open, is there anything
beneath the undulations
           on your eye? But there is nothing
to worry about; ugliness
    is not a fault—to exist,
                 unbothered. Within,
         let go of your need
to squelch
            through folds among folds
        for the algae bloom.
How many nights
       have you longed for a body
              of land never claimed, once
the wasting flesh of the old had drowned?
                                       Was it ever
            a dream that you
would be
                                    a muse,
sprawled over a beach towel;
                                    a beloved,
bikini untied in the heat of summer;
                                    an image,
couched between horizon and shore.
You would have been
        unharbored elsewhere.
   Of course, let us
     be honest, you are regurgitated
by the ocean herself,
         a skull of what remains
of a siren’s call. Here
       you are, and here I am, lured
                   by how appalling you are.


Rayji de Guia is a fictionist, poet, and illustrator. Her work can be found in Asian Cha, harana poetry, The Pinch, and elsewhere. She was a poet resident at Sangam House in 2019 and a fellow for fiction in the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2021. Later this year, she will be a writer resident at Rimbun Dahan, where she hopes to complete her first collection of short stories. Currently, she is based in Metro Manila. Find her at rayjideguia.com.

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