It is the hour of the ocean’s flowering, this soft fruit moon
when they are low as they are high.
Once it was a town. Once it was a people. There is no priest
but a congregation holds its breath, its mass, here
where it swims.
God’s most sanctified hands, the old woman at the shore feeds her dog–
riddled with holes, worm-bitten–
saltwater from a half-heart pomegranate at his lips.
When they admonish her, she reminds them he likes the taste,
and he is dying.
When there was a town, when he lived in the town
the people saw him trot through these streets on so many limbs, curving down
a bracing laugh, his nose that stayed forever cold. He always howled
at the island of night.
Sickened by the sea,
he drank so much of it. As if he had a school in his stomach,
a large and gilled and glutinous breed.
Later, old and hungry, the tide had left and he wanted to go
Tonight their husks of palms grow dimmer, the ocean’s color begins to bleed,
the beach sticky with bloom and an old woman
The water will be in his lungs by now, she says.
They do not ask if she means her dog, her father, her lover,
her son. It hardly matters. They know all they need to about her grief
when she says,
He will have been the first one off the ship.
No matter how much of his likeness is riveted here, bronze, always
He will have been the first to leave.
Gemma Trimble is currently a fourth-year student at Arizona State University. She writes primarily poetry, which you can find in Lux Creative Review (2021 and 2022) and Scribendi Magazine (2023), as well as short fiction, published in Lux (2021 and 2022) and The Decameron Project (2021). Gemma’s work often centers around themes of body, memory, and mythos. You can find her on Instagram @gemmatrimble_ or on Twitter @gemmartrimble