Elisa Contemplates the Dictionary

         after The Shape of Water

My mother taught me to use my hands
instead of my tongue to compose
feelings, draft verbs onto the air. Rein
the wind, my mother told me, but don’t
lick the dust off its saddle. I was born
with a voice. I conversed with twittering
mobiles & petty cats. Three scores
along my pale neck cut the sound
from my throat. Too deep to know
why. Remember when we all had gills?
Remember how we needed them?
I don’t remember tasting the inside
of my mother’s belly, but I can almost
remember how it felt, the taut slime of it,
like a sun of leather stretched over
the drum, stitched tight, the air’s voice
insistent & hungry & not at all quiet.


Jessica Hudson received her Creative Writing MFA from Northern Michigan University, where she worked as an associate editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in The Pinch, West Trade Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Pithead Chapel, and Sweet Lit, among others.

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