Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

Down by the Water

Too early in the day for 

fireflies, the sex of them 

lighting up in hope 

that I am known to 

avoid.  Know this:

The sex of me still exists

but it’s possible I’ve turned

squid over time.

How the water moves and laps

at the feet, how, in Japan,

the Firefly Squid lights up 

to repel the eaters away—

the same way

a girl learns to stop smiling,

to cross her legs, 

to guard her hands.

The Firefly Squid is a delicacy:  

Its three-inch, electric body

made of the photophores of dreams.

Maybe there is some small hope

if we eat of their bodies

the blue light they emit

will make us holy.

Maybe we all just want to light up,

find a bed and lay ourselves down.

How the water moves and laps

against my hungry hands:

It’s warm glow

feels much like the sinking light

of the sinking sun.

To feel it in my knees, 

to remember that there once was a time

when you and I were blinking lights:  

Just begun.

Sanjana Nair is a full-time professor at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has taught at New York University, Miami University She served as the first Treasurer for the Asian American Poetry organization Kundiman. Her poetry has appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Fence Magazine, JuxtaProse Literary Magazine, The Equalizer, Swimm, What Rough Beast for Indolent Books, Anastamos and No, Dear Magazine. Deeply invested in collaboration, her work has been performed in multiple Emotive Fruition shows New York City and her piece The Lady Apple, a collaboration between poet and composer Beata Moon, was performed at Tribeca’s Flea Theater as well as featured on National Public Radio’s Soundcheck. She resides in Brooklyn.