Three poems by Bailey Grey • Empty Mirror

Long Beach WA watercolor / credit: dethe beach approach / credit: de


by naming an ocean / we shrink it / it gains sharp edges
and an orientation / (who decided that north means up?)
we are like reflections in spoons / (cotton balls and lighters)

really each ocean intertwines with another / together they shout
no / that was not just an allusion without thought / that was
something i lived / there are 400 year old sharks that roam

the seas / battle scarred and refusing to die / there are oceans
refusing to be mapped / and reflections refusing to be righted

waves: of sea

i’ve spent time drowning in each kind of wave / only the river almost killed me / with its mad desire to drag me out to sea / but why? // i used to try to make my body a carcass / but never by drowning / salty and bloated / covered in seaweed / no / i wanted to bleed out / or overdose / i think // —but remember the river and know i was happy there / at that moment / sunshine and laughter / the swollen river / angry river / did-not-care river / plunged me over the dam / seconds are eternal underwater // i cannot speak for the sea / only myself / and i thought of my sisters / maybe driving over the bridge / i wondered if my death would forever mar the sight of this greedy river / beautiful river / gateway-to-sea river

the space between

few people know that drowning isn’t all flails and shrieks. it is quiet determination slowly seeping away from a victim, along with the body’s reserve of strength. which is to say that the term love is unable to speak most days for the exhaustion of keeping head above water.

there is only the surface and what’s beneath but nothing between. only the void between molecules that slip and slide past each other. which is to say that term passing like ships in the night is more accurate than we know. untold billions of them gliding ghostlike. inert and numb to the presence of the others.

occasionally, we meet in the space between. step outside our own forces to lay ourselves naked and plain. and then i realize i don’t know you. i haven’t known you. all these years i’ve only felt us as chemical reaction. reduced us to valence electrons given and taken.

but, i forgot ΔH. which is to say that the term enthalpy speaks to the solipsist questions. enthalpy, unfolded, reveals a holiness of the body, and i can’t truly know what is holy. there is only the surface. what is beneath does not come free

Bailey Grey

Bailey Grey is a non-binary, bipolar software developer living in Virginia with their grumpy old cat. Their work has been published in Crab Fat Magazine, Dovecote Magazine, Ghost City Review, and Kissing Dynamite, and they were a finalist for Sundog Lit‘s Summer Collaboration Contest (2019). They can be found on twitter @BaileyGWrites.

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