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I met Anna at Schumacher College, Devon, England. A poet who sat at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and wrote these poems, on waterproof notebooks with a waterproof pen. One as a freediver, and one as if she was the sea herself. Her heart is an infinite ocean.

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ANNA SELBY


Poet, naturalist
Totnes, United Kingdom


 

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What Happens to Your Heart

It goes like this:

you will be floating

your skin will become thirst.

Submerge your face

a metamorphosis starts

blood retreats, heartbeat slowing

your mind an almost-state.

If you choose

dive, the transformation

grows. You become water

mammalian. On land

the equivalent pressure

kills. For the first few feet

your lungs are buoys, afterward

contracting air shrinks you.

Go deeper. You swim

into a gravityless space.

Here is where the ocean

stops pushing you away.

Further, the pressure trebles

the Master Switch kicks. Your heart

ticks even slower. Below

it plummets - 14 beats

or lower. You should be unconscious.

Your chest size halves, organ walls

work as release valves.

Now, turn back up.

Everything switches, reinflates, 

races. You are land again, 

of and on. You’re heart

broke laws.

Where the Light Cannot Follow

That hardening 

hardening rockmoss -- fog 

carried across -- the constant constant 

sweeping green mops -- the picking at 

punctuation -- an eel flicked

up, a coil, snatch -- that net

of sunlight drafts -- the billion

billion lights that drop to me 

-- the clinging growths -- the lay me down

to sleeps -- teeth -- the rippling 

stirring sheaths -- my moulting -- this shoving 

roll -- the long ehho 

of a whale sounded back -- my yawns 

gaps -- the thousand thousand 

nested in me -- my pregnancies 

the hot hot clackle -- porous 

chimneys -- sand-ash 

stampedes -- shot at-shot from

through -- tickling 

creeps -- these anchor 

piercings -- these beats -- the cardinal 

cardinal warren of sleeves

-- the hundred writhers 

that gasp from me -- leak -- freed -- this

tucking in -- these folds 

-- the mobile 

of rays that hang over me

spin -- circling -- those small

wings scissoring above them -- these whale 

lynchings -- this end gulp -- this crink --

all the hours it takes 

a vessel to sink -- this dismantling 

of colour -- breaks

in refractions -- these water 

tackles -- these hymns

groans, mouthings -- these light 

flashing strings -- contortions 

-- clackers -- these tempters’ 

trappers’ scrapers’ bleachers’ 

tantrums -- whims -- these 

I wants I won’ts 

-- these clappers -- this dance

of all the drowned at sea -- the molars 

they bring to me -- the feeds - the falls

-- the vocalists -- the voices 

trapped in the plane dives 

the cutters -- hackers -- crawling breeds

-- spitters -- the luminescencers -- this deep 

deep -- jut -- cliff -- jaw

slummocked -- this molten dark 

black-black -- benthic -- scarred

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