my first published poem, appeared in The Mid-American Review


Ned Hayes

White men’s bodies turn green under the billows of the sea
I have been told so; when the young are dragged from the tide
their lips have melted into a delicate slash of emerald.

Black bodies turn blue in the brine
none of the longshoremen here notice, there are too many dead;
in Jamaica or Barbados it is rarer. There, the heavy pictish tinge
is obvious — their friends, dark and strangely indigo, found
among the flood of tourist caucasian suicides.

There is a color women’s bodies turn
the change is as oblique as the departure of the soul
when our flesh takes on the scent of waves,
our skin tone melds away.

But no one has ever noticed the change of shade;
these corpses often float for years.
then, sometimes, they return to shore, marry, take up jobs or clean
house, have children, laugh and talk.
I am walking around still, tasting of ocean, undetected.


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