The Coelacanth Discovers Natural History

by Ana Maria Guay

In 1975, the AMNH dissected its first coelacanth, 

which was pregnant with five embryos.


While you arrange me, I tell you I have seen a century of indigos. Twilight sliced in water like an apple against the thumb, current lifting the seafloor’s hair off her neck. Heart like a rainspout, skin like a fistful of blossoms flung across a dark pond. You write a label: no value except for collectors. I ask if your language has a word for the body’s tender leavings, for the lives I grew five years in me like a bushel of pearls, you say inventory. The trick of glass not to hide what’s underneath but to invent it. Eight thousand miles away, my beloved drifts between the shells of dying wars. Eight thousand miles away, babies are waking up American. What now is the color of lava crawling newborn against the dark? Of the wet young faces of the waves? They had names before, but you ignored them. We had names before, but you unmade them.

Ana Maria Guay is a queer writer of color, born in Asuncion, Paraguay and adopted to Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in Longleaf Review, Lunch Ticket, Asymptote, and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago and can be found at

Issue 32