Woman and Water 

by Shelby Lengyel

Runestone, volume 7


Woman and Water by Shelby Lengyel. Runestone v. 7

After “Elm” by Sylvia Plath

I know the bottom, I coo. I know it as my pebbled stream bed,
accumulated and forlorn. Doleful, as stones come to rest along my bottom.

Is it the current you hear in me, its heavy weeping,
or the obsessive stagnance that is your disease?

Love is a swell. Looped failing attempts to control a natural thing,
move against it. Or with it, ripples. Neutrally buoyant.

Feel the long grasses beside my cut bank. The thrum of water
against the curves of me unable to sleep amongst this languid air.

Have I surprised you? The sounds coming out of me
a prickle on your skin? Like swirling water bugs atop my head
that become food for the undulating and naive fish.

I’ve lost myself to myself so many times. Spouting out
every which way, pouring over and over, nearly drowning
myself. Do you know how to swim?

In my wildest dreams I escape myself. Crisp fish with their gills
to the ground crust to my core as I dry up. My skin cracked in all its pining.
The hollows of me raucous while I search for new legs.

Once I was a woman who could wake and who could feel,
tantalizing sunlight kissing me good morning. Remembering a past
absconded, billows in my river bed. Now I can only watch–

oneirophrenia, as she wets her palm, dips a fleshy toe,
and begins to submerge. I look down into my belly but she has gone.
The sound of another night alone crumbles the sands at my sides.

It is in my nature to drag my feet. A bobbing statue
of a green-eyed monster, an algal bloom of malice.

Love is the skips of soft flat stones across my back.
I count one, two, three with no hands to retrieve them.
I hold myself in the only ways I know how, but memory continues
to plunge right through me. Resting its foot on stones dressed in slime.

Now I am only water, no words despite all my sound. Forced to feel
all at once and at all times. Narrow channels forcing my insides further
into myself. I listen as my stream picks up

and I yearn, and yearn, and yearn.

Shelby Lengyel

Shelby Lengyel

Normandale Community College

Shelby Lengyel received her AFA in Theatre Performance from Normandale Community College last year, and will graduate this spring with her AFA in Creative Writing. She is currently applying to BFA programs around the country in pursuit of a double major.

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