Pulled from the Anacostia,
a remora hitched to the Potomac,
Sligo Creek draws its stomach
away from the sculpted cage
of its ribs, dupe for the trickle-down
of everyone else’s appetite,
loosening and tightening its belt
one single, seasoned notch at a time.
Withstanding the wash, neck
outstretched, the turtle is engraved
like a cave wall, filled with the flesh
of adaptation. We have come from
where we have replaced the birds
with sun-phantoms, their woven pouches
with semaphores dripping from steel
poles. We no longer look to the limbs
of elms, where their wings stutter through
leaves and their song rings brassier
than so many other raucous horns
of plenty. O torope, show us how
to siphon the fresh layers from the taint,
lift our heads to the sky and glory
in what is offered so that we, too,
may pass these primal stories on.
Jen Karetnick is the author of ten poetry collections, including
Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023)
and The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books,
forthcoming August 2020). Her poems appear recently or are forthcoming
in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review,
Terrain, Under a Warm Green Linden, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, Jen is currently a Deering Estate Artist-in-Residence.
Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com.
Featured Image: Chingaza by Natá Kohli