3 Poems | Clair Dunlap

Meditation on my catastrophic progression memorialized in fishtails

when i lie down in the brown creek after watermelon wedges,
the pastel spandex of my stomach rises above the murk.
tiniest bugs whirl between the silver-white of my fingers
and minnows, like a quick flash blanket, rise up and over up and over.

the fingers of salmon we grow from eggs
are all tail. i see their tiny eyes when i look hard enough, imagine
the coho returning to spawn bright and bloody
on the fish ladder, flinging themselves up and over up and over
doing anything just to find familiarity again.

at pike place they’ll throw the big fish right in front of you,
my family and i stand with hot donuts in our hands to watch:
we are the stream the fish tails haphazardly soar up from and out of,
silver splinters so bright as to have come from stars
and cold as night itself.

the black parking lot in minnesota silent and still, broken by
the fast blue squeal of ice under the tires
fast ice of my body white and rigid in the passenger seat
fast smile while he sees me
fill with stifled scream again and again while he turns the wheel
up and over up and over up and over

with such purpose.


Meditation on my catastrophic progression memorialized in watermelon

i pick the pink fruit clean,
swallow each dark seed like a pill,
it’s easy.

bad seed sounds harmless, a melon
growing quietly in your belly on accident.
bad seed does it all secret, bad seed replaces you
with thick, warped vines.
bad seed’s some old wive’s tale no one believes.
bad seed actually rots inside you, gets so big you
don’t open your mouth to smile for one year in case
something else might get in.
bad seed so small you didn’t know
you’d swallowed. bad seed never sits right
in your stomach. bad seed as if you could tell and
toss it over your shoulder. bad seed like you could have
taken a bite any differently. bad seed looks just like the others.
bad seed still surrounded by the sweet.
bad seed sounds better and slides down simpler
than abuser. bad seed like he never meant it all. bad seed sounds like
it came straight from his mouth, bad seed
some kind of excuse. so

at my kitchen table i dig each one out with a fingernail
to see what the next might grow.


Meditation on my catastrophic progression memorialized in nightmare

the knife of his hand on my wrist
has never been seen. it does not cut. the rope of his hand
on my wrist serrated and blue. his fingers white on my wrist.

the kitchen we are always in marble quiet and packed thick with men.

the hand of his knife on my wrist perhaps is my wrist, it’s
been there so long.

my mouth gapes so wide i fall out of it onto the floor.
i watch the whole thing.
my mouth so loud my body won’t even hold me. only
he holds me in the palm of his knife.

the only thing to hear for so long is my crying. it sounds far away but
really flings itself from my teeth steady as a car alarm
straight into his smiling face.

his mouth doesn’t move.

his hand doesn’t move.

the kitchen we are always in cicada eruption from the men. they all ask

why won’t i talk to him
why won’t i answer to him
why am i being so quiet –

the kitchen we are always in could cave in from my shrieking. is my mouth

not opening?

am i only telling myself to let go?

the kitchen we are always in white as his hand on me, cement still,
and no one but me has eyes.

Clair Dunlap grew up just outside Seattle, Washington, where she started writing poems at the age of six. She currently resides in the Midwest and spends her free time missing the ocean, making vegan cheese, and drinking tea. Her work can be found, or is upcoming, in Whale Road Review, Souvenir, Vagabond City, Persephone’s Daughters, Up the Staircase Quarterly, the Harpoon Review and more. Her first collection of poetry is forthcoming.

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