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Breakwater Issue 32 artwork5_no border.jpg

Living Fossils

by L. M. Guay

Did you know, said a boy at the Coney Island touch tank,

if you step on a horseshoe crab, you can’t get AIDS.


Over 500,000 horseshoe crabs are taken and bled each year.

The color of lost worlds is raspberry freeze pop, antiviral blue. 


That summer I let the sea plaster me into a new body,

swam fully clothed, hid my girlhood in a suit of brine. 


That summer my aunt was gone to Florida,

where the woman who wasn’t her roommate would die.


And the city ran hot and bothered, like a vein

seething with ghosts it cannot return.


Back then I didn’t know how to want the things I wanted,

only to mouth the narrow breeze as she drifted in and fled.


Back then I stretched out on the sand like a bared throat.

Flipped on its back, a horseshoe crab will not survive alone.


What part of a living fossil is the part that lives?

If I close my eyes I see the boardwalk as it once was,


the air ceaseless and the oranges not yet bruised,

and all up and down the shadow of stomping feet.

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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