WHEN SUN SHINES ON WATER by Stella Lei
Claire goes pearl diving / in a swimming pool. Chlorinated and cold, / belly-down like a whale died / wrong. Claire is pallid, is sinking, / is alone, alone, alone. / Claire is halfway to drowned. Seeing through a haze / of blue, pickling her senses and watching the world / come apart. Cracks line the tiles / on the pool floor and she tries to fold / herself / into them so grout can sand / her clean, fresh. Claire is knuckling the whites from her eyes, / peeling cornea from iris from pupil / until only her retinas are exposed / to the sun. Claire wants to become lens flare, / wants to flash across photographs and screens. / Wants to blind. But Claire is shriveled, fingers on the edge of bloat, / in an empty pool. Claire is pretending / the bubbles are snapping lenses, / but her eyes are red and bleary / and her surroundings are swirled in fog. / The pool is not even her own—it belongs to a friend / of a friend who invited her over and is waiting for her to leave. / But Claire is bound to the promise of pearls, / of light, of fluorescence spilling over tile. Claire is staring at her face / in the grate, watching the metal warp / her features, / watching her eyes slide wide, blur / into her nose into her mouth. Claire is rubbing her fingers / across steel, touching her reflection, / trying to find her face.