Tagged ancestors or struggle

artwork by @jona_shoe

swallow

the children sit by the shore line
swallowing shards of broken glass.
broken bottles tossed from boats
by old men remembering each other.
they wish for touch and life jackets.
they wish for adult arms to catch them
as they tumble off broken swing sets.

most of the glass is broken bottles
tossed through storms, whirlpools and drownings
but some are left with messages in tact:
“the way i love you terrifies me”
“you are my compass”
“i need you like breathing”
“i think they saw us”
“one day we’ll be together”

the letters are spotted by ocean blood and tears
aged and faded by sunbeams
begging for the waking breath of sunrise
the tender steady holding of a sea shore.

the children clutch their shredded bellies
their burning cheeks rest against pillows of sand
in their dreams they touch each other
and silently pass tide-smoothed sea glass hand to hand.
they sing the songs of letters sung by mermaids,
soak in ink resting peaceful amongst the bones
of whales left to rest in shallow sunny water
ribcages empty and welcoming of heartbeats.

the children pass each other dandelion roots
rose petals, nettles leaves and fiddleheads
and fresh hand-cupped creek water.
they nurse each other patiently
tend to wounds and salt-water crumbling
lay the dead to rest with elder flowers
and pray the songs sung by mermaids
tucked amongst the haunted whale bones
finally resting peacefully, at the bottom of the sea.


this poem is from my poetry chapbook 13 months feral. i’ve shared it here today in anticipation of our upcoming workshop tour glitter rebellion. in these workshops we will explore using creative process to get in touch with and learn from our ancestors. this poem came to me through a dream and is an exploration of how plant allies and queer ancestry support healing from trauma.

the wonderful art for this poem comes from @jona_shoe. you can check out their work on instagram and on their website.