local_library Unfathomable Mammals

by Marc Vincenz

Published in Issue No. 172 ~ September, 2011

Nowhere to go

so you lean back

into this squall

saltspray cold.

A witch’s tit

nursing you

into your life-rollicking.

This foam twisting, curling,

churning, frothing at the teeth,

this dark azure slapping beneath—

godhand fingering fibreglass—

where whales breed

in waterbeds of sulfuric purple weed.

Three of us tied to the gills,

toggled, strapped in oystertight;

berthside, pink blooms,

giant Medusa sporing,

five-hundred million

cloud creatures teasing

brainlessly in the pelagic.

After fifteen days

you’re ready to sink

into any old sand, feel

kernels between the toes, or—

small prominence—

pinpoint crag jutting above

ocean’s windfrothed curlicues.

You ask the skipper

if there’s an oil rig boring out here,

simply anywhere where

molecules congregate to form solids.

Not a blind bean, he says,

smirking planktonic into the

the oldest soup in the known universe—

borne of molluscs a million muscles old—

a gazpacho of the mealymouthed:

krill feeders, bioluminescent foragers

and their algal cores, known as seventy percent

of this godless world.

It takes waters from the South Pole

one thousand six-hundred years

to reach the North, he quiffs

fingering the wheel with clenched breath,

waltzing in step with seesaw seesaw.

Now the waves heave twenty feet high

we skew at forty-five

as if we are to downplunge. Petrels, terns skim

the troughs, a stray pelican caws mast-circling.

You’ve heard in thirty years

there’ll be no more fish in the ocean

and yet, today, orca pods roll on their hunt

single-eyeing us, five of them, black humps,

a mythyopic serpent undulating, penumbrating,

honing in for the slow deadly bite.

You could almost reach across

into this wavewall

and fingerstroke their marble-smooth skins.

Supernatural, you say dripping,

as you take my hand in yours

squeeze down for dear life,

boring your fingernails into my palm,

across lifelines

leading me into the naked dark

of the cabin below, where,

sunk into the green-grey of

timelessness we slip into our own skins

and become mammals fondling

on the cusp of the breakwater.

fifteen days aboard the Aurora, 2009

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Marc Vincenz was born in Hong Kong to Swiss-British parents during the height of the Cultural Revolution. Later, he lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. More recently, he moved to Iceland where he works as a freelance journalist, poet, translator and literary critic. He is Poetry and Non-fiction Editor for the international webzine Mad Hatters' Review and is a member of the editorial board of the Boston-based Open Letters Monthly. Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Spillway, Poetry Salzburg Review, Poets & Artists, Nth Position, Möbius The Poetry Magazine, MiPOesias, Asian Cha, elimae and Inertia. Marc's poems are regularly featured on October Babies, http://octoberbabies.wordpress.com. A chapbook, Upholding Half the Sky, was published by GOSS183: Casa Menendez (2010), USA. A new collection, The Propaganda Factory, is forthcoming from Argotist ebooks, UK later this year.