FOR A BURIAL FREE OF SHARKS
Poetry Contest Winner, selected by Lucas de Lima, written by Xandria Phillips
how in the hull we worked we wormed at earth’s lack in we lives and in those deaths / and I say we / not collective not tongued the same and not kin and not in love / but in all of we pressed up against we heat and doings similar and reduced to sameness / saw the first of we plunging for home / landing into a shiver of them / in not looking towards the carnage saw the moon reflected onto by we water was pink / we may have known / well I did not / that a drop would not take us to the bottom and buried / well I did not know these beasts stream with we / we had to try to die better / without soil to pollinate pores no soul restoration / some of we / we risked death to put dead in the ground / we worked we wormed / we did our pieces for a burial free of sharks / the earth was sand / a sea kind of solid / a half after-life we thought was better / but tides did rise and sharks’ noses plowed what we hands put over we / found we bodies to devour / failure to send we home was not without punishment / one of we / not I was tethered / ankles to hull / and we saw this one we disappear by limb until there was only a pair of feet trailing the ship / I still haven’t a want for death / and I know my burial impends / we all been too physical / our flesh is the closest ground in sight / putting the mind on a high shelf is a burial without sharks / I double where my joints can and bury self in self
Xandria Phillips is a poet who hails from a small rural town in northeastern Ohio. She was raised on corn, and inherited her grandmother’s fear of open water. Xandria currently serves as Winter Tangerine’s associate poetry editor. She is both a Cave Canem and Callaloo fellow. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in West Branch, Callaloo, Transition, The James Franco Review, Powder Keg Magazine, and elsewhere.