The Sea Goddess Tells His Story

Part of Giordano Bruno’s heresy was his conception of a universal soul, which he compared to the Greek ocean goddess Amphitrite.

In the evening, so close, my lips graze your lobe. Where you sit at a table splattered with beeswax, roomed above a stable in Rome, I open my arms to you–currents, waves, swells, a body ready to take you in.

Cow dung and sour milk reeks through floorboards.

A cart lumbering on the street below.

Your quill, dipped in ink, scratches thoughts about me across paper–how I’m atoms floating in an endless sea, a single starlight ocean, a soul cast into never-ending ether.

Dawn, and you refuse to betray me. In red cassocks and golden mitres, they strip of your cloak, linen, hose, shave your head, gag you with a bridle of cowhide. As they huddle against a cold sun on greasy cobblestones, hooded monks turn from your mangled chants leaking over the wind, the pop of blistering flesh. They mutter incantations to save you from eternal fire, but they’re more afraid your pyre is their own undoing. Like cracks in ice, they travel away from my arms that would wrap them in a saltwater stole.

I birthed you in a broth of kelp, oysters, mussels, starfish, and again you eddy toward underwater caverns, an eel encircled in fire.

I hear your gutturals behind the rag they’ve stuffed down your throat, smell your red rivers pulsing toward my tides.

Logs hiss. The crackle of cedar branches in flames.

Behind your ribcage spins a gold ball, a mass of droplets streaming star-ward, north, south, east, west. You’re an ammonite, swirling in the morning light.

Your sparks fly into my waves.

As embers float upward to darkness, your skin crisps, your bones and fingernails char, turn to ash.

I rock you to sleep in a simmering cradle.


Christine Swint lives in the Atlanta area with her husband, two sons, and her dogs, Duffy and Red. A former editor at Ouroboros Review, she now attends the New South’s Writing Workshop at Georgia State University and teaches basic composition. Her poems, short stories, and essays have appeared in Tipton Poetry Journal, Qarrtsiluni, Cordite Review, Mamaphonic, and others. To relax she swims laps in pools, lakes, and oceans.

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