Back to Issue Thirteen.

THE OCEAN SCAVENGER

BY MARIEL ALONZO

 

On nights when the moon has fully emptied out itself
             he would watch the waltz of gnat & lizard on the ceiling
                          a distant sound of froth muffling their tongues.

When the crickets’ legs have stilled & tangled along
             with another (an amputee, with equally broken
                          music) he would pull himself up from the mat of woven

leaves feeling each bone grind against cartilage (& his cartilage
             moans ‘muscle’ & nerve tickles his tender swollen mosquito
                          bites) & he takes out his makeshift gas lamp from

an old cupboard, twisting the rubber plug free, refilling
             the oil. He pulls a small metal latch & a fire ignites
                          sputtering as he fiddled with the gas knob till he is satisfied

with the intensity (the lizard’s shadow on the wall
             flickers, as if tiny palms were pushing against its belly)
                          He straps it & a small knife on his hip holster & descends

from his stilted shack, the low tide lapping at his rubber slippers
             sand coaxing it into its crushed bed, forcing him to remove their
                          wet grip & fling them out like freed crows, stripping into flies

into night. Pumping more fuel into his lamp, he begins
             his trek, feet wade knowingly through the seaweeds, shy
                          cartographer flesh meets ocean flesh. He would reach

out for edibles, tossing them into the pail: clumps of seaweed
             cone snails, black & white sea cucumbers that he would
                          dismember first. Stooping close, his hand brushes beneath

a bleached table coral & carefully picks up a sea urchin
             his flame illuminating its dancing violet spines. Turning it over
                          he presses on the circular lining of its mouth with his thumbs

cracking it open, pouring out the violet liquid. He scrapes off
             the orange sex sacs with a finger, raising them to his lips, slipped
                          inside for tasting. From afar he sees some antlered body ascend

bursting over the surface before shattering. The pang
             of salt deserts without leaving claw marks in his throat
                          catarrh parching his mouth – how long, since his gas ran out?     

 

 

Alonzo 13

Mariel Alonzo is an undergraduate student at the University of the Philippines - Diliman who used to study Mechanical Engineering. Some of her orphans have found refuge in journals such as SoftblowToasted CheeseTower JournalSanta Clara Reviewblackmail press, and others. Her poem “On Pork & Camellia” was selected by Tarifa Faizullah as an Honorable Mention for the 2015 Adroit Prize for Poetry, and appeared in the previous issue.