Back to Issue Thirteen.

THE OCEAN SCAVENGER

BY MARIEL ALONZO

 

On nights when the moon has fully emptied out itself
he would watch the waltz of gnat & lizard on the ceiling
a distant sound of froth muffling their tongues.

When the crickets’ legs have stilled & tangled along
with another (an amputee, with equally broken
music) he would pull himself up from the mat of woven

leaves feeling each bone grind against cartilage (& his cartilage
moans ‘muscle’ & nerve tickles his tender swollen mosquito
bites) & he takes out his makeshift gas lamp from

an old cupboard, twisting the rubber plug free, refilling
the oil. He pulls a small metal latch & a fire ignites
sputtering as he fiddled with the gas knob till he is satisfied

with the intensity (the lizard’s shadow on the wall
flickers, as if tiny palms were pushing against its belly)
He straps it & a small knife on his hip holster & descends

from his stilted shack, the low tide lapping at his rubber slippers
sand coaxing it into its crushed bed, forcing him to remove their
wet grip & fling them out like freed crows, stripping into flies

into night. Pumping more fuel into his lamp, he begins
his trek, feet wade knowingly through the seaweeds, shy
cartographer flesh meets ocean flesh. He would reach

out for edibles, tossing them into the pail: clumps of seaweed
cone snails, black & white sea cucumbers that he would
dismember first. Stooping close, his hand brushes beneath

a bleached table coral & carefully picks up a sea urchin
his flame illuminating its dancing violet spines. Turning it over
he presses on the circular lining of its mouth with his thumbs

cracking it open, pouring out the violet liquid. He scrapes off
the orange sex sacs with a finger, raising them to his lips, slipped
inside for tasting. From afar he sees some antlered body ascend

bursting over the surface before shattering. The pang
of salt deserts without leaving claw marks in his throat
catarrh parching his mouth – how long, since his gas ran out?

Mariel Alonzo is an undergraduate student at the University of the Philippines – Diliman who used to study Mechanical Engineering. Some of her orphans have found refuge in journals such as SoftblowToasted CheeseTower JournalSanta Clara Reviewblackmail press, and others. Her poem “On Pork & Camellia” was selected by Tarifa Faizullah as an Honorable Mention for the 2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry, and appeared in the previous issue.

Next (P. J. Williams, “Elegy”) >

< Previous (Ian Burnette, “the twist”)