Sister of the ultra

marine abyss— Tah-

lequah, what did you call

your daughter before she

spilled from your womb; sea-daughter

out of sea-mother; saltwater balloon

within a balloon floating the blue

ocean planet like a universal

womb where galaxies

pulse like jellyfish?


lequah, our planet sails

with a magnetic pole

tail. You navigate the amplitude and

frequency of magnetic fluctuation,


lequah, echo listener, whistle-bouncer,

hydrodynamic sailor balancing

your daughter’s body a thousand miles

through currents spiked

with tangled nylon and crumpled

styrofoam tubs.


lequah, when in

your eighteen-month

gestation did your body

sense it could not grow another?

Your afterbirth ravels

red fibers leached from your body

by warm industrial waters.

You hold your emaciated

newborn at the surface of your world

and the rim of mine,


lequah. You breathe for her,

but there is no response. You swim

through detritus; through

the din of engines, the screech

of metal on metal.


lequah, you breathe and

breathe again, but do not dive.

You do not hunt.


lequah, you hold

your child up;

to be buoyant, to wish

her lungs to swell

and sigh with air. We

document your journey

in miles, in days. How

do you keep time,


lequah? In tidal shifts; in

phases of the moon? Can you

predict when the effluvial

stream of oil-tainted water

will wash from the streets

of Seattle?

Do the century-old

matriarchs of your

community sing the epic

of your journey?


lequah, may we re-

member the name we

gave you. May we teach

children the rhythm and beat

of your heart; the splash of your

body breaking the waves,