You meet me at the bridge and ask me to discard my scales. Urgently: you say it’s time for me to join you above. It’s simple, you say, just pull them out like so many fingernails. You do not have them, so you do not know. You’ve given me no clippers so I must dig in and rip them out from the root.
It takes hours. You grow bored, you drowse beneath a tree nearby. My blood stains the swamp and it bubbles in my wounds. I’m cleansed by black water tannins. My sides and legs shredded and oozing, I roll onto the riverbank. You gather me up in the net of your arms.
You have a place for me in a nice suburban home. I’ll have a family: someone to look after me each day. There is awe and love in your eyes. I have hidden my gills; I hope that as I learn to breathe your air, they do not fall away.
At night, I worry about missed connections. It was possible something minutely divine was at play, in the vein of spying the last ripe avocado, or ripping the tag off a new shirt. Life just seemed a little better for the sinfulness. A message here or there, a provocative dream, a craving late at night when they were each alone. If only they knew what was a beginning and what was a detour.
Tonight I worry that the future is too wide and we are too small; it absorbs us in a flash and we are gone, consumed… and the future yawns on and on.
Last night I worried about guardian angels. Are they ever disappointed in us? Why do they stick around? What if they don’t get to choose who they are guarding; maybe if we don’t connect with them they disappear.
At night I worry that my cat thinks my hands are not of me, but rather entities I can sometimes control. She watches them most carefully while I sleep, ogles at the inconsistency of their patterns. Perhaps in her mind, only my hands stay alive each night when my body has fallen.
At night I worry about bringing home a wife, and a baby that’s not family but rather a loved one. What a thing to call a child, what a thing to say to a best friend. I miss our childhood. I miss belonging with you.
At night, I worry that the ocean will rise over the marsh to kiss my mother’s front steps and an abusive cycle will begin, the sea gone as the stars appear, returning each sunrise drunk with salt and too in love with the moon to apologize.
At night, I worry about fistulated women far from help, abandoned. In a documentary on female castration I watched a beautiful widow lower herself into a hot tub, tears glowing on her cheek.
At night, I worry about my mother’s teeth. I fear the gargoyles in Westminster Abbey holding their teeth in their paws and howling in that odd agony specific to dental health. She flosses, I’ve checked.