a lifeguard hovers nearby 
at all times
& tells me to be careful
with my wants. lately, i have been
drifting farther & farther
from being a skin person. 
on my altar i have
a mason jar full of lake water
& inside grows a great snake.
soon i will release him
& he will eat up all floor boards.
in my cupboard cheerios 
float like prayer beads.
i count them to be sure none
are missing. my jar of peppermint oil 
is for warding off raccoons
& potential lovers. a few days ago
i could have had a boy in my bed 
but i fell apart & the lifeguard
had to pick me up
piece by piece from the ceiling.
the lifeguard is skeletal
& murky faced. i tell him 
i am not a life to be guarded
but he doesn't move. stays here.
never eats, just stares forward & forward.
translucent skin. hollow eyes.
crosses his arms. blows his
long wooden whistle
whenever i try to think 
about drowning myself
in the lake which isn't too often
but is more often than you might
imagine. you have to understand.
there's no sting to the water
like the ocean. the water
is totally at peace. my hair
floats up around me like a halo
& for a moment i am stillness.
the lifeguard yanks me out
by my shoulders. he says
"breathe now" & i do. the air is
mountain-thick & heavy.
i want a deeper pool of water &
a string of smooth stones &
a staircase leading to water. i want
the lifeguard to move on
& fixate on someone else's body.
i will be alright. leave me
to my death brushes. the snake
is swelling & soon it will be
large enough to be released.
i am hoping it will eat the lifeguard
though i will likely not be able
to follow through with that.
do you ever make terrible plans 
just to keep going? i imagine
pulling the lifeguard down
into the lake with me--
looking into his eyes & showing him
just what it feels like there.
he would stay. cross his legs 
& sink & sink-- slip away 
into the depths. that's not even
what i want. i don't know 
what i want but i am hungry
for a quiet the bedroom 
& the door haven't given me.
dear lifeguard, sleep next to me
tonight & i promise
to be a more gentle version
of my soul. i'll tell you 
a story of the ocean 
i used to visit as a child
if you tell me why 
you can't let me hold 
my breath.

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