Wanda Deglane, “Self-Portrait as Coral Reef”

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Self-Portrait as Coral Reef

I’ve sunk down to the depths of the blue,
a little corpse drowned eons ago when my head
was forced under. The air burst from my lungs
and my stinging eyes were glued shut.
Millennia have passed since I’ve succumbed
to the tides, and with them the land masses
have shifted, the waves rock the world
in a nightly lullaby, and yet here I am still, and
I haven’t moved an inch. But my skeleton is no tragedy,
where I lie is no graveyard. Tear open my cages
and find in my crevasses and deepest recesses
that I am teeming with life in its most beautiful forms.
Fish of all shapes and sizes swim through what once
was my nose and behind my eyes, raise their families
in my bountiful lungs. The starfish attach themselves
to my ancient skull, kissing me daily and whispering
their thanks. An octopus coils his many tentacles
around my pelvis, looking for whelks and krill to feast on.
My arms are eternally outstretched—give me your lost
and your homeless, oh Mother, let them find in me a haven.
I want to build planets inside me, and layer my deadened bones
in softest beauty, in color, in life, forever and ever.


Wanda Deglane is a freshman at Arizona State University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Her poetry has been published on Dodging the Rain, r.kv.r.y, and Spider Mirror, and is forthcoming from Porridge Magazine and elsewhere. She is the daughter of Peruvian immigrants and lives with her huge family in Glendale, Arizona. When she isn’t writing, she paints and spends time with her dog, Princess Leia.


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