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Image by Leyre

Underwater Tea Party

We are liquid in liquid pouring liquid,
languid and elegant though longing for oxygen
holding still the balloon of our lungs

arms scalloping to keep us in place.
The blue pool above is our atmosphere.
We tip invisible teapots, lift dainty cups to mouths

then shoot upward and burst through the surface
gasping into the racket of Marco Polo 
and lifeguard bellows, only to descend again 

into that parlor of protective silence.
Days pass, edgeless as water,
timeless as a mud-filled clock,

with us rising smack into the sharp air and shrieks, 
glimpsing lotion legs, then plunging 
back to our home in the underworld.


Just as our feet drag on the steepening road
we round a corner of bushes trimmed

to fit the sidewalk and tall enough to hide a house.
The shrubbery exudes moths—

fuzzy, clumsy, bumping leaf to leaf, a gauntlet
to pass through as we haul ourselves uphill

weighted by a heat that shouldn’t exist this far north.
A few of the bugs fidget alongside us

then flail against the screen once we’re back inside.
We say these daytime moths are pollinators

but they’re more like disoriented vampires
driven batty by too much sun,

a biblical plague caused by human chaos,
whose frenzy erases our elegant swallowtail summers

by agitating the air with rhythmless thwapping
until all color is gone.

Sarah Carleton writes poetry, edits fiction, plays the banjo, and knits obsessively in Tampa, Florida. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Nimrod, Chattahoochee Review, Tar River Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and New Ohio Review. Her first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was published in 2020 by Kelsay Books.


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