‘We Don't Always Have to Toss Her in the Deep End’, Jordan Hirsch

Illustrations © 2022 Cécile Matthey

 [ Siren, © 2022 Cécile Matthey ] What if when she drowns
she grows gills
sprouting out of her hands
because keeping them busy
has always been
what’s allowed her
to breathe?

She’ll sink down
to the depths,
into what was supposed to
kill her, an environment
unsuitable for life, and
she’ll live anyway.

Kicking stronger in the current
than she’s ever kicked before.
The sea salt burning and
cleansing her wounds: the ones that
slice her arms, her legs,
her torso, her breasts.
The ones the world gave her
when she said,
“I am me.”

Her eyes will begin to see
in the dark, light
filtered down, down,
down enough to make out
shapes and the half-truths
that drifted down with her from
the land up above.

Her eyes will adjust.
Her eyes will adjust.

What if her hair grows long,
like in all those stories
she’s read, flowing behind her,
interlaced with shells and pretty
stones rounded smooth
on the sea bed?

Will we say she’s beautiful?
Will we say she’s strong?
Will we say she’s thrived
given her circumstances?

Will we forget it was us
who threw her overboard?

© 2022 Jordan Hirsch

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