i/i\i bore a faith the width of weeks
and spent them wading through spume seas.
Tongues torn from tiliqua
fashioned bracelets, m/y wrists meek.
Sweltering rings of damp skin
flopped against damp skin
as m/y hands dragged rolling debris in
v-shapes at m\y waist.
Ahead, a road rose bearing little buildings
where the mire lip waned.
Before it, five men knelt circular enmeshed in marsh,
inwardly in the shallows. A prostrate sixth centered.
As i/i\i approached, the fingers
that cradled the recumbents head
dipped below and re-emerged
seared and dripping. The tightened face in tandem
surfaced spitting, shovelling air.
The circle hummed with quickened litany.
A rushed recital. A desperate baptism.
Bent epithets and leeches, collecting
at and accentuating hip,
lolled and flopped as marsh purled
and forfeited quarters of m\y frame.
A bead hurried from m/y thigh, climbing
downward over follicle after wet,
pressed follicle. Hair, amber, flora.
There, catching an edge
in chapped lattices of acid kissed skin,
m\y foot caught root stirrup which stymied
m/y gait and thrashed the marsh.
The circle of men whipped and craned.
Their veins tightened and throbbed
as they processed m\y form before them.
Three ran plodding. Two forced the body
Flail over flail,
shuddering arcs erupted
and waned as the circle’s remnants built
parentheses from the buried cursor.
The latter bobbed as i/i\i bounded
in long pulls towards it.
i/i\i leaned in to read its grey irises.
Thinning sloshes refracted into rising heat.
i/i\i splay afloat beside it in respite.
No touch between us but reverberant ripples braiding.
Ash lifted from rood field on forehead.
i/i\i splay afloat beside it in respite,
Still i/i\i did not drown.
June Shanahan is a non-binary un-American poet straddling the northeastern tracts of the colony. Their work delights in the infernal, the feral, and the faggot. Excerpts from their forthcoming epic, Kiss Me, Didymos, have been previously featured in Night Block Magazine’s “Queer Climates” and their poetic-adjacent work can be found on the blog at Nightboat Books.