by Danielle Weeks
Personal Statement: Foraminifera
I am from the kingdom of what I am not,
shout and lung, a shell that stays hidden
in the body. I am not the girl who stopped
breathing when she climbed the cemetery
wall. I am the way you draw the invisible:
Here is a thin dotted outline. Here is light
without sugar. All you have to do is darken
the spaces around me, the places my body
cuts through the fill. Like a drinking game
where we sit in a circle, count our fingers,
and I tell you all the wild human places
I’ve never been. And even then, I drink
to the decimal. I am too afraid of spilling
out of my body, trying to think through
a cotton distance, covering up mirrors
as I go. I was never the pretty daughter
but that’s not why I can’t see my face.
I have always been a stranger waiting
for someone to tell me if I have passed
the test, if I have learned how to laugh
correctly, check my watch, say goodbye.
They found her ghost buried in the creek bed,
her body a black film pressed under stone.
I can color her in, see her arms flickering
through the water, the light on her skin turning red.
It’s this persistence of vision, the eye wanting
to skip the dark blink between each frame,
see everything as one continuous story
that’ll make sense in the end, if you would only
pay attention to the background, the recurrent
red, the circles, the mirror that shows
the killer’s face, for a second. Back home,
the ocean carried a girl’s body as far as it could
before leaving her on the shore next to the broken
valves of seashells, the other empty animals.
They roped off the beach while they looked
for her name, undressed her body with blue gloves,
read the salt in her lungs. The body has a language
for where it came from, where it’s been.
If they find water in your lungs, it means
you were still living when you entered the ocean.
You could have walked right in with stones tied
to your hair, your heart a hole worn smooth
in the waves. You could have gone past a sign
that said No Swimming just to be alone, just to prove
you were wild, sure that all your soft-bodied years
would stay safe on the shore, waiting for you.
Here is the last part of the story: they carry
her back to land, arrange her body behind glass
while the red sun disappears below the water
as quietly as the drowned. It’s no miracle.
Everyone knew this was going to happen,
will happen tomorrow, that we’ve built millions
of years on these small ghosts, water like a mirror
showing the room behind us, who else is there.
Danielle Weeks received her MFA in poetry through Eastern Washington University’s creative writing program. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, cream city review, The Gettysburg Review, Third Coast, and Yemassee, among others. Her poem “Human Uses” was chosen as the winner of Atticus Review’s annual poetry contest in 2018.