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Never Turn Your Back, Leigh Camacho Rourks

There is a king tide, and the Pacific Ocean

is an alien beast tonight, a gorgeous monster


so different than my beloved Atlantic.

And it is howling. Goodamn it can howl, a noise

like a tornado, a train, the moon or the earth or your

last breath straining, being wrenched and ripped in two,

and yet, I am seduced.

My heart has promised it

a sacrifice: this body it rides, if you can believe, as if

the two have come disconnected, and the heart is no

longer willing,

as if my heart could beat its way out and toss

the rest of me to something bigger, something

so big it is hungry, so big we must feed it. Something

we all owe.

It only wants to sink like a whalefall, my heart,

to fall apart, to unflesh, to debone, to fling

itself into life or death or any damn thing, so long

as it is motion. It does not care for teeth or limbs

just the way ocean rushes like blood

ventricular, bathing in salt and violence, this

is the stuff.

The rest of me can rot and tide away,

but it will dance.

This heart has a thing for pulsing,

for waves that crash and pound and tear and rend.

It has a weakness for gods with tridents and for sirens

and for men that fall deep to their deaths in search

of goddamn song.

This heart is a swimmer, a thing with

not wings but fins. It is pre-limb. It is fetal flesh

that floats. It is more comfortable in the primordial

than I/always careful/always scared/am.


Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Cuban-American author from South Louisiana and Assistant Professor at Beacon College in Florida. Her collection, Moon Trees and Other Orphans, won the St. Lawrence Book Award. She is also the recipient of the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize.

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