after a painting by Laura Sanders
Launched from the lake’s muzzle
your bones swirl
in amniotic womanhood
against the undertow of adolescence.
Your face a full moon & you take
breath, exhale flocks of dragonflies
& golden tadpoles, swallow
old stories, deep song.
In time you will claim Rio Abajo Rio
your river beneath the river—
your hair blonde kelp, no life
jacket or bow line
you are nimble,
a vernal shapeshifter
of kith & kin.
Necklaces ripple ‘round you,
your sultry appointments with the world
may embrace fluidity—a she, a he,
a them, each to each. You raise
your arms above your head
then submerge downward,
Anais Nin tattooed onto
each wrist from your mother:
on left— I must be a mermaid,
on right—I have no fear of depths
and a great fear
of shallow living.
Rikki Santer’s work has appeared in various publications including Ms. Magazine, Poetry East, Margie, Hotel Amerika, The American Journal of Poetry, Slab, Crab Orchard Review, RHINO, Grimm, Slipstream, Midwest Review and The Main Street Rag. Her seventh poetry collection, In Pearl Broth, was just published by Stubborn Mule Press.