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Jessica Cuello

The First Lowering: Chapter 48

Lowered above my flesh strings,
harp of my mouth,
those who look for me
will find I shrink
because I was born
with a warning.
I was born with the tale
of Bluebeard’s wives.
My mother told me that in the real world
one man carved rape onto
his victim’s back.
Before I knew what real was.

Squid: Chapter 59

My food rose in white ghost glory
sent silence over the water
came from an under
where forests begin and mountains.
What does my food remind you of?
How large the ground below desire—
when I dive I’m not of you. I seek
the sweet silk, headless. But to survive.
To be alive. And the pleasure is
that bite. The skin, the juice that runs.
Disgorge an arm, pulpy mass, cream.
Undulating apparition. Yes, I eat and tear.
Life unto life. Food unto food.
You are different: sell and kill.

The Whale as a Dish: Chapter 65

I am not alive anymore.
I have my parts:
the meat
the brain
the cream

I fed my baby
from the inside
out. And now
I am in the mouth
of a man; he holds
his little knife.

He stabs to eat.
I understand
hunger, the plunge
to stop the cramp,
raw beak,

yet sometimes
one eye meets
another and agrees:
not this flesh

not this blood
to oil the mouth.

Tashtego Falls Into the Whale’s Head: Chapter 78

I encased Tashtego in
the numbness of my walls:
my loose dismembered head.
I was Dead by then—

still making life
with him upside-down
and fetal against me.
He fell and sank,

in complete darkness
in an oily curtain
and the weight of a body in water
is the weight of water.

He would have slept for good
but Queequeg delivered him
by his hair, wiped my honey
from his face.

Brother wants brother
to breathe. I won’t lie:
I made him spent in me.
We sweetened each other.

Not How the Whale Imagined His Touch: Chapter 80

What did this mean? That I was
beautiful? Your fingers

on my crevices of brain—
a kind of phrenology

down through my spine.
Where I pooled desire,

where I pooled memory:
the lapping water, your face.

Your face—so strange.
I’d nudged the boat, amazed

that you lived with objects
and walked on water—

that moment when I first
was sighted, when I waited

for you to leave,
for the boat to exit,

and instead your thumb
pressed against my teeth.

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