retraced in the

body’s porous


line between

water & non-light

emptied from

continuities of death & cartilage,

fistfuls of lung

swelling & washing away

fluid buildup & spasm

shifting in each recollection, identical

in every hemisphere

of causality. that it fights

language of gutting & insists

on familiar shapes:

great hills of the body –

a slow decay –

a permanent

small lake


against deluge,

wide stretches

of cindery waste.


i fear the body cannot love

the bitch of bone crowns & eyes

mythologically pooling into small

disgraces, nipples eroding in

swamp grass so high

uncovered only

after rigor. i fear

it is the woman

who turns over

in erosions of sleep, eyes dried

at the center

of anticlimax

buried in mudflats.


along blood-streaked edges

& oxbows, current slowing

at the mouth, the crevassed,

disordered landscape of my body

crawls invertebrately

not coming, flattened, swallowed whole

& hung like an old curtain,

dead of any noise

but the pressured speech

of cicadas.

if i cannot open myself

with my own hands

how could you navigate

the mutually oblique intersection

of the womb

& the womb’s resistance

where parts of the wall

still remain after




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Isabel Balée was born and raised in New Orleans and has roots in Belém do Pará, Brazil. She received her MFA from Brown University in 2015, and currently teaches creative writing at Tulane University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prelude, Deluge, ICHNOS, Littletell, Fanzine, and Alice Blue Review.