Tongues lap at open air
as we, sad animals of salt,
move towards the altar
sloughing strands of hair, sweat, skin,
the residue of bodies.
Show me holy.
Bone angle and bent exuberance,
the wafer beneath my tongue, fit of little
disappointments in my fist.
The chalice awakes, its open mouth
as whole and dark as your mouth,
a black-eyed susan toppled from the sun.
I turn and taste the drought.
When you meet the Beluga of your grief
in the open ocean, do not pierce or pet it.
Do not ride or tame it.
Do not feed it anything other than yourself.
Instead, let it roll you in its mouth,
mold you with its gargantuan tongue.
Let it swallow you whole.
Arrive like Jonah in the soft underbelly of lament,
in the whale of your own sorrow, drown.
Settle among the tattered fish, the carnage,
the fishermen's hooks carved into bones of rust.
Push your hands into the raucous heart,
feel it beat wildly against your palms.
Begin to crawl.
Up the colossal throat and past monoliths of teeth,
climb out like a hymn. Rise like a stupid miracle
flung upon some sun-fragrant rock,
shocked and land-hungry, wet with whale spit and resolve.
Cup your hands to your heart---full now with the sonar of sadness
Remember how it propelled you, breathless, towards the shore.
In autumn, I eavesdrop on winter.
I ruddy my cheeks up and go out.
You were my little shark,
cool beside my body, sluicing for blood.
Yet I remain unbroken, innocent as a goat,
clenched white in the lemon trees, sleeved in snow—
these are the shining days.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Joy Sullivan is a poet and educator living in Franklinton, Ohio. Currently, she teaches Creative Writing at Columbus State Community College, Columbus Academy and Thurber House. Joy earned an MA in Poetry from Miami University and her academic work reflects an interest in social justice, community development, and creative education. Her most recent publications include Periodisa Publishing, Boxcar Poetry, and Mirror Dance. Additionally, she currently serves as the Artist-in-Residence for the Wexner Center's Pages Program.
Kristin Calhoun is an artist and illustrator living in Columbus, Ohio.