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Ari Wolff
Self Portrait as a Shrinking Lake

The ache drove on single-minded,
tickling me in places
I couldn’t see.

Bright birds shot across the valley;
a Warbler drifted like a fat flame
cooing in the Alders.

Consumed by the auspice
of wellness, I ate plants
and drank tea made from fish.

There was a question of being man-made,
of a stillness hung
over my head, a cloud of midges.

I couldn’t hide from the sun
who went on quietly
thumbing my incisions, pulling up.

When a lake dies, it simply disappears.
The birds pretended not to notice
as all across my edges

blossoms burst like white confetti
from hands dropping
what they intended to gather.

Self Portrait as the Salt Marsh

Ribbed clouds spoon the pines

outstretched like an awning

above the bay. Red-winged

blackbirds dive through cordgrass,

down the county road that split

my stomach, their wings glow

as if patterned with flame.

I’m a good witch with my cauldron

of brackish water. My fingers

swell with the tide. I slink

through parties, wind in my teeth,

cussing out the river.

This is where lost kites land,

where the bay spits out its dinner.

Mollusks breathe holes

in the streaks of purple sand.

I peek between worlds,

water up to my eyes. I know

how the land sucks in its gut.

I know whose neck to lick

when I want to taste the sea.


Ari Wolff’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Potluck, The Offing, Vinyl, Whiskey Island, and Storm Cellar. She grew up in the Merrimac Valley in Massachusetts and currently lives in Brooklyn, where she teaches art and preschool.