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  • Tia Cowger

"Siren Song" and "The Boat

Artwork created for "Siren Song" by ZephyrZ
Artwork created for "Siren Song" by ZephyrZ

I haven’t always been a shipwreck—heart

chest hasn’t always been locked up with

warped sides, rusted keyhole.

The sirens sung my father and his father

and his father to sleep and left me with the

consequences of being a woman on a man’s ship.

My forefathers are all dead, and all I’m left

with is a goddamn broken wheel and a box

without a key.

I was a pirate in a past life, but I failed.

I’m failing right now, and I haven’t held

a halyard in over a century. Maybe that’s

why I’m turning to dust between my skins.

Maybe that’s why this damn box won’t open.

Grandfather swallowed the key, and rebirth

doesn’t happen like it used to. The sea laps

at my hull like a lover, but I’d rather take

a cannonball to the chest than admit I’m lonely.


I am in a boat when the light comes. Blinding

bioluminescence aches into the back of my eyes.

Plankton swim violently, churning billowing

lace-curtains of blue.

I once witnessed a wish fall into black waters

and shine so brightly in its death, I still have

flashbacks. I hope it was granted in that single,

blazing moment. Perhaps this is where all wishes

go when they are granted, to shimmer

in depths of space.

I am prepared to jump—join every fallen wish-star

in sea foam. Maybe I will glow as bright as the

luminous menagerie beneath me. My hand grazes

across tense water; all goes dark.

I am in a boat

when the light leaves me behind.


Tia Cowger is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University. A poet at heart, her work has been published in The Examined Life Journal, Gone Lawn, The Olive Press, Sheila-Na-Gig, The Coffin Bell Journal, Passengers Journal, and Wild Roof Journal.

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