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Poetry By
  Crystalee Calderwood

Published on: 5/16/2011
A Rusty Heart (a Dorsimbra)

My heart is rusty within my bare breast
no longer solid like lead or concrete
I go into the bathroom to get dressed,
his words following me, not soft or sweet.

"What did you go and do that for?" he asks,
his head cocked to the side so he can watch me.
I close the door and answer through the keyhole
so small that he can't steal a glance

as I dress in the baggy sweats he hates.
"You deserve it," I say, thinking of the
way I have dumped him, handcuffed to the bed.
My heart is rusty within my bare breast.

Published on: 5/16/2011
Tea and Fish with Caleb

I joined Caleb to drink tea by the muddy pond.
My skin freckled under the summer sun
until all the speckles ran together,
an optical illusion of tan.

I drank iced tea but Caleb
savored hot Earl Grey, rolled it around inside
his mouth, over his flat, slick tongue,
perfect, straight white teeth.
Did he know I was watching him,
saw the moment his eyes
glistened as he spotted the shadow
under the water creep towards us?

That's the biggest fish I've ever seen!
he shouted. He jumped up, stood on the edge
of the murky water, a stain next to his white
t-shirt, his sun-drenched skin.
He tried pebbles, sticks, every natural bait
he could grab to make the fish jump,
just to get a glimpse of his giant jaws,
his massive, polished back.

I don't know what made Caleb take the teabag
from the bottom of his cup,
dangle it above the water, then stoop,
dip it in, wave it toward himself.
The tea flowed from the bag, mixed
mute tan with muck brown, churned, stirred.
I crouched beside him, stared into the water,
watched the fish slither toward us.

He lifted the teabag with a jerk.
The fish jumped, opened his mouth as wide
as ours opened in shock.
He flashed his slick orange body,
then flopped back into the water.
I caught a glimpse of the black sores
on the fish's back, another imperfection
in our last perfect moment together.

Published on: 5/16/2011
The water will eat me.

I knew this at a young age.
The water will swallow me whole,
pull me into its bottomless mouth,
feast on my fear of it.

So I stayed away from lakes, oceans,
rivers, splashes of ponds in the woods.
At the beach, I stayed on shore,
rarely allowing my feet to touch
the rush of wave that broke on land.
My stomach sank on bridges over rivers,
my head spun even after I closed my eyes.
In an airplane over the Atlantic,
I pulled the shade down so I couldn't sense
the infinite blue beneath me.

Water churns up treasures from its darkness.
It can see through itself, always confident,
always reflecting what I could be.

Once, I walked into the ocean,
a friend in the water guiding me
with her arms outstretched,
a hand in my trembling hand.
I dipped my feet, legs, up to my shoulders
into the ocean's cool, fresh confidence.
I stayed long enough to feel its strength
shake through my bones, then
returned to shore, my skin saturated
with salt, my eyes open and large.

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