Pearls on a Branch

I grew up moving in small forward bursts
like an ornate squid.

Rubbing my head on rough walls
in an attempt to whittle it aerodynamic.

Appearing to occasionally burble a word
that means “equal,” or “inferior,” or “not me.”

A broken string of puckered pearls in my left hand at all times,
lining each finger like sucking cephalopod legs.

Something sharp and black at my center.
A beak that was never a bird’s.

         Where is her brain in all that mush?
         Which side of her is “up”?

Hungry like a shoal.
Thirsty like a fish is not.

A slew of appendages trailing away in trophic space,
having grown each one back.

Underside like an exposed throat.
Hematite in all of my clefts.

         If a fish is simply a man that hasn’t grown legs,
         then what is she?

Femininity embedded in a shellfish.
An unexpectedly amphibious delight.

I was once a quadripus
who found it illogical

to breathe air when everything is simply sopping
and poked pufferfish to induce verdant dreams.

Such imperative ease to my limbs,
I decided to grow four more.





Karoline Schaufler (002)_editedKaroline Schaufler is a Pacific Northwest writer from Bellingham, Washington. She is a recent graduate from the MA English program at Western Washington University where she studied rhetoric and composition and learned the word “ekphrastic.”