Julie Weiss

received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from SJSU. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Lavender ReviewSinister WisdomThe American Journal of Poetry, and Sky Island Journal, amongothers. She lives in Spain with her wife and two young children. You can find her on Twitter @colourofpoetry or on her website here.


          After Adrienne Rich

If I took your hand and told you
my greatest desire is to break
the surface of your soul,
would you look at me anew?

I don’t mean break like a rock hurled forth
by hand, impulsive, too much
has been shattered already, but tender as
a deep-sea diver climbing down the ladder,

dropping into the space that has rippled open,
paddling downwards through the shifting light,
the blues and greens swirling into black
as I near the floor, as I approach the wreck

which you have tried to camouflage
with a splashy voice and dimpled grins,
but I know better, I know the rotting wood
under which your heart is crushed, I know

the sorrow, growing like algae along the planks,
all tangled up in your words when you tell me
he wasn’t the one, either. Whether for
deception or dissolution or downright violence,

you’ve always waded your way back to me,
the best friend, through reefs of past relationships,
starved for oxygen, staring toward a distant sun
as if you could make out, emerging from within

the light, a silhouette of the perfect man.
They’re not worth your serenity, I say,
guiding you along the flank, into the hold.
I want you to see the instruments they destroyed;

I want you to behold the tentative haunters,
all your drowned faces scalded by
illusory rays. I’ll find him, you say,
turning your compass dial in any direction

but mine. I am she, I start to confess
but I’m short of breath, and besides,
the sea has silenced me. If I told you
I came here for your life, not the story

of your life; if I cast off my mask, if I
stripped down to my scales and circled about
your body; if I wedged my knife-blade under
the lids of barrels containing the treasures

of my heart, which I’ve been silently storing for
years, would you come crashing out of the wreck,
would you let me drown in your mermaid hair,
would you sigh as we streamed to the surface?