Get the best of Commons Magazine — FREE!


July 30, 2014

Animalia Terrestria

An UNCOMMON/WORD poem by Alexandra Fresch

We are pleased to feature the first poem from the six poets recently selected for the round two of On The Commons' UNCOMMON/WORD project. 

Alexandra Fresch is a freelance writer and the chief editor of Apparatus Publishing, a multimedia digital publishing start-up that enhances fiction with illustration and sound for tablet publication. Her primary fields of artistic interest are identity politics, social issues, and speculative fiction, especially horror and sci-fi. Her short stories have appeared in Scheherezade's Bequest, Expanded Horizons, Silverthought Online, and Niteblade, but this is her first published poem.


Animalia Terrestria

I set my feet
          in the slow-moving, foliate river
and sometimes they are rich with brown oily fur
and sometimes their lime webs are sails that let in the dim sun
and sometimes they shine pebbled like black leather,
          algae tangling my claws in curtained clouds
and sometimes
my terrible strong-tailed body drags behind

but usually I wear chitin,
a skin that still articulates
warm shallows first flushed with oxygen
the multiplicate bones of the jaw, dividing
           into a way of breathing
into a way of hearing

a way of stromatolites and giant ferns
           into a way of soft, naked, heel-down feet
           whose flat nails cannot remember beyond trees.
I have never flown; just now the stars
that have always been there
begin to blink for me
             between the moss-hoared cypresses.