Fish-bellied mother surviving,
slit-bellied fish we’ve fed from,
transubstantiated from the shallows-

scum detritus of our past,
we cannot look you in the eye.
We cannot tell you where

we have been since we left.
We cannot say much
for progress or personhood,

a cannibal act subsumed
in time’s vagaries; we know
only that we are

become the eaters of flesh.
We are famished.
We swallow whole all things

we don’t know, a slow digestion
of the self. We are performing
ourselves. Mother,

come up from the water.
Mother, half-drowned,
half-alive between our teeth.

if only a handful
of teeth if only a bone
fragment if the absences
say more than her body still
we can say snakelike
we can say a large skull
a large jaw expanding
in the water we can say predation
& fear the first human
experiences salty & bright
where she swam
shallow & warm if she bore
young if she was made to
bleed if she mothered
if she fed them
her own flesh if she lost
herself piece by piece
until she was only backbone
only teeth and eventually
even the teeth were lost
before we found her &
said that she was nearly whole

You are nature

your heart pushes blood
like the moon
pulls the ocean
Fast-twitch, slow-twitch

American Museum

They point at the skeletons and say, / not me, not me, not me.