Blackfish State

Laura Da’


My son points up to the
ship’s name—The Kaleetan.

Arrow, I say
in Salish.

A breeze tweezes a flight  
of my hair with his,

so tonally similar
our locks

are inseparable—
murky raspberry brunette

in the softly drunken
beforehand light.


Once I dipped
into the cove
on a dare.
cold water in my ears,
blanket of silt
resting on the starfish
so thick on the rocks
that I couldn’t help
balancing myself
two fingers
on a bright magenta tentacle.
Shivering up the beach
I lobbed a dirt clod
at a faded church billboard
asking me if I had
a God shaped hole.

There was a pod of orcas
on the ship home,
rippling neat and frisky
as a row of dominos
toppling in perfect order.

The woman next to me
gripped the guardrail
with such frenetic thrill
her false fingernails
popped off one by one.
A bright coral ellipsis
gliding into the wake.  
Past tense—
a sleek hole inside me,
moving in the shape
of a blackfish.


One hand to steady
the mild June currents underfoot,
it feels off to clasp my son
to my left hip, but my right
abdomen is a swollen coil of dialysis tubing.
I shade his forehead from the rain
with a brochure
for a bed and breakfast
and register
the avid track of his eyes
taking in the water’s blurred end-line,
the flicker of recognition
at the island’s
hump-backed breech.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Three.
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