by Avanti Tulpule

& like dirty seagulls, swelling / into a white sky, until it heaved / low-bellied & congested / fell
to its knees / & held up by the raucous clutter of wings,

our mothers gathered at the edges of the sea / until the oceans were littered with their bodies /
poisoned with their bodies / push-pulled & thrust back to shore / holding one mouthful of static.

this is how i imagine i am born; frothing lavender & milky mucus; white wiped away to blood-
browned life. under the sterile moon / my mother: wet wings, fluorescent halo.

hunger chokes out my childhood; i call the emptiness girl.
so my mother cups me in her palms / calls me blessing.
so my mother crushes her blue teeth / into powdered grievings / & i swallow. / & i swallow until
my belly is water-logged and bursting / until water seeps out of my ears & floods the house with
the stench of desire.

so my mother flees from water-body to water-body,
so i call this lingering home.

i drown my mother; i haul her to the frayed horizon and cast her to shore.
earth does not accept her / i tried to bury her, & she rose from its depths / a mouthful of sea-salt.
& the ocean push-pulls her / to shore, murmurs she has spent too long forgetting how to drown /
to surrender. 

this is how i imagine a future; i emerge, whole / overflowing. sea-salt lingers on my lips & crusts
over my fingernails; i choke on static / call her daughter.
the moon, somber, a baleful eye.

i kiss women who fill me with their want / who fill my mouth with wildflower promises / until i
know why my mother could never go back to the sea. / water gnaws my body until i am stripped
to my girlhood / night holds me in jagged silence / streetlights carve my body into flame.
& i am left a name, a hungering.

Avanti Tulpule is a high school senior. She would like to thank her friends and family for their support.