Cole Caswell, Deserted American Dreaming, Celestial Wayfinding (tintype), 8”x10”, Maine, 2016

For the oysters I try to grow when I bury
seed pearls under my sister’s rose-lit trellis
or those the fisherman’s hands shuck apart—
formless girls asleep on a salt-ridged bed. 
This is no delusion. The fisherman arrives
for my sister. For her belly, now deluged with
seaspray. Yes, it is what the fisherman told me.
Inside her: a pale bone bead, girlish. A mother-
of-pearl fleshed in my sister’s iridescent mantle.
At high tide she opens her bivalve mouth,
winnows sand grit down her gelatinous gullet,
as if to scour out the cartilage ribbing her womb.
This is a delusion. The fisherman knows lust,
knows lackluster. He later severs my sister
at the hinges, scrapes away the broken shells,
digs her mangled red clay for sprouting seeds,
finds none. The fisherman leaves loose-palmed,
still reeking of trout oil, clementines, my sister.


Jacqueline He