“The bottom of the sea is less cruel than you’d think,” she tells me, four drinks deep at The Schooner Hannah (the dive bar, not the boat), leaning in to play with the links of my secondhand crucifix. She’s the great-great-grand daughter of shipwrecked Cape Verdean whalers who didn’t drown, somehow, but instead built, from wet sand, tidewrack, driftwood & clamshell, houses at the sea’s nadir. They fell for subaquatic fiancées & interbred, she tells me, making a life in which they were the Ishmaels, the narrators, not the interchangeable extras x-ed out of early Melville revisions. She sounds like distant windchimes when she exhales, & what I thought were a few stray curls are really cursive, f-shaped slits below her jawline. Weirdly familial five drinks deep, I think of my sister, who, though not half-amphibian, fish, or dolphin, is half-Polish & can swim like a motherfucker. Me, I just sink. She parts the dive bar’s beaded curtains, leads me down cobblestone streets to the pier, & swan-dives in the harvest moon’s reflection, extending stone-smooth, polished fingers through the glint. The bottom of the sea is less cruel than you’d think.
JD Debris is a poet and songwriter. He held the Goldwater Fellowship at NYU from 2018-20, where he completed his MFA. In 2020, his work was selected by Ilya Kaminsky for Ploughshares’ Emerging Writers Prize, and he was named to Narrative’s 30 Below 30 list. His releases include the chapbook SPARRING (Salem State University Press, 2018) and the music albums BLACK MARKET ORGANS (Simple Truth Records, 2016) and JD DEBRIS MURDER CLUB (forthcoming).
Recreation Collage Rebeca Flores is a Salvadoreña and Mexican American artist from Fresno, CA.