POETRY May 7, 2021

Shell No. 2 (1928)

after Georgia O’Keeffe

on a barely summer off-peak hour we climbed into the lake with
no one but our mother to watch us, whose bodies were once her body, too,
and we bobbed out under the pier where the wooden posts were slick
and dark with living things
throwing ourselves feet first again and again into the water.

at the bottom, in the ochrebrown shadow, we kicked up silt
and dust-like bugs, wrapped thick wet grass around our middles like a tether,
swam to the surface with kelp hung from each limb, red and yellow and emerald.
we broke skin against barnacles, exited the water,
blood on our legs in thin rivulets. we watched silverbrown fish flash
farther out, where the water went blue and deep, where
we told each other octopuses slept purple as night or black as mussel,
shrieking about who would swim farthest past the pier.
we watched our skin under the filter of water, rippled and green.

and to think that all of us, in the water, were simply bodies in a body,
full of dark and living things.

Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in DEAR, Jet Fuel Review, The Hopper, Split Rock Review, Glass, and more. Her micro-chap, "Drawing No. 9 (1915)," is part of the upcoming Ghost City Press 2021 Summer Series. She currently lives in the Midwest.