Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Mal de Débarquement


Diagnosis: Land sick.
Experience stutters
in the pores. Thirsts
for boat. Muscles moan
ocean. The body’s small stories
bow to another gravity. Salt
fiend. You mourn
for your mother. The movement
of her earth. Rise and fall.
The rock. She swelled you
to sleep. Sung a sea inside
these bones. Symptoms: Balance
fools across generations.
Convinces the body it is owned
enough to get a name. The dirt sways.
Skyscrapers bob like seagulls. Nothing solid
holds. You rock. Chartless
with nowhere stars. Small
relief in anything man
made. Cars. Trains. But when you still
the memory muddies. Seasick with the ways
you were taught to woman.
To altar absent men.
You break. Over and over, like waves.
Causes: You once told your mother
you could be anything. Yes she said. Even a wife.
Let him confuse you for freedom. Confuse body
for boat. You rise and fall.
The rhythm of what you’ve been
taught. Cells hoard. Three fourths
of her. Hunger blankets this earth.
Once a mother gives birth
she never stops speaking.
Treatment: almost all cases:
female. No tie between the length
of the trip, how bad the symptoms or how long
they will last. The body sways trying
to out rock a bigger body. Name its own ground.
Cure:  There is none. You can go back. Give
in. Return to boat. Or keep on, unsteady, never trust
what promises to keep, to stay. But if symptoms
do not remit. Depart on their own
terms. The disorder remains.
Incurable, permanent.

Kelly Grace Thomas is the winner of the 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor from Rattle, a 2018 finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a Best of the Next nominee. Boat Burned, her first full-length collection, is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2019. Kelly’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in: DIAGRAM, Tinderbox, Diode, Nashville Review, Sixth Finch, Muzzle and more. Kelly currently works to bring poetry to underserved youth as the Director of Education and Pedagogy for Get Lit-Words Ignite. She is also the co-author of Words Ignite: Explore, Write and Perform, Classic and Spoken Word Poetry (Literary Riot). She is currently a reader for Tinderbox Poetry Journal. Kelly is also a screenwriter and novelist. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband. Find her online here and follow her on Twitter here.