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The Coelacanth Discovers Natural History

by L. M. 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.

Loren Maria Guay is a poet and adoptee from Asunción, Paraguay, raised in Brooklyn, NY. Their poems have appeared in West Trade Review, Longleaf Review, Lunch Ticket, Asymptote, and elsewhere. They live in Chicago and can be found at or on Bluesky @nightgleaming.

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