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Nautical Shrouds by Vi Khi Nao

I have spent my life roaming deliberately. Exhaling oxygen
out  of  triangular  shaped  ventilators.  I  turn  to  the coral
reefs  and  have  measured my life by their verdant glances.
Their lungs, by the way, are fake corridors. And  although I
wag  my  tail,  I  am not a dog  chained  to  a leash. Nor do I
need   the   approval   of  my  peers.  I  roam.  Sometimes  in
solitude;  sometimes in  a  crowd. But unlike a dog, I do not
die  a  little each day, subdued to the loyalty of my master. I
die  all  at once if it must be. I die sometimes wrapped up in
the  sleep  of nautical shrouds. Sometimes alone with a bow
needle  nailed  to  the roof of my mouth. Sometimes my jaw
is  completely  yanked out of my body and this is okay. This
gives  my  body  an  opportunity  to  watch  my  decapitated
head  fall  into  an  ice  bucket.  This  time  I  really  kick the
bucket–my  cousin’s   face   pressed   against  my  mandible
as  our  fleshes  are  taken  from  us. I do not expect my last
breath to exist a the corridor of another  face.

Vi Khi Nao is the author of the novel, Fish in Exile, and poetry collection, The Old Philosopher. Vi's work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She was the winner of the 2014 Nightboat Poetry Prize and the 2016 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Contest.

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