Amanda Brahlek

Peter Artedi Names a Daughter


Wombed between ankle and heel,
the doctors scraped me
from my father’s foot.
The ache of glass under skin,
I was born a bone spur.

He floated me in a glass-jar-nursery.
I swam with two teeth,
a pinky nail, and a kidney stone.

I was his little cricket’s hip.
I chirped for him,
chirped beneath the water
and clicked against the glass.
He limped me to sleep
as I swirled with Latin lullabies,
and the water swished like Swedish fish.

Soon, legs sprouted from my belly
and I began to nub and gurgle around his lab.
Free to wade through air, I squelched gill-kisses
to the other bobbing bits, lifeless as glass.


At home, I waited for him.
I wanted to watch him stagger-dance
and rub his finger over my fins.
I wanted to swim in his licorice breath
and swallow the salt from his glassy eyes.
I wanted him to scrub my scales free of algae.

At home, I waited for him.
But he was no angler,
no lamprey, no urchin
as he slipped into the canal.
“Herring” he called me “Herring!”
Gillless, he flapped. Finless, he flailed.
Without swim-bladder, he sank.

Amanda S. Brahlek is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at McNeese State University. Her work has appeared in Vector Press, Middle Gray, and Coastlines Literary Magazine and is forthcoming in the Crab Orchard Review. She is the winner of the 2016 Allison Joseph Poetry Award through Crab Orchard Review.

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