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Julia Hands

Eyestalk Ablation

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Inside pastures of tidal flats, prawns congeal and conglomerate.
The female Kuruma sit, their brown-striped bodies packed
with immaturity. Skin slides like eggshell remnants.

One by one, each female is scooped. Her eyestalk held between rubber
forefinger and thumb, then pinched off. The tips tossed.
Cauterized to heal, the Kuruma balloons,

head smooth with motherhood. Her exoskeleton joyfully stretches.
Fattened pink, her eggs now jostle, striped underbelly rippled
with the scars of sight. I imagine eyestalks

bucketed, the stems’ pink liquids catching the dockside sunlight.
The miniscule feminine thousands bulge with maternity, maturity,
blinded for ovarian stimulation: the deteriorated female condition.

In six months, her stalks may grow back. Was it worth it?
Does she better feel the vibrations, the hum of eggs
oscillating the salt and water? Is it more clear?

I imagine it was like a wave that crashes down,
but it was likely more like a light
that snaps shut, bulb burnt out.


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I remember when I was old enough to say to you:
The parking lot is an ice rink, my license three days old.
Or, when I could complain about my gas bill:
How does it get up this high?

We bond through our taxes, our rent spikes;
what we would do if we didn’t have work
even as we set our suits for the next day.
Your words finally fit in my mouth,
my lips know how to make them.

Some words don’t compute.
I don’t know the equation.
Somehow My body no longer fits
equals Your motto should be move on.
Or why I still feel his bruises on my waist
produces You never want my advice.

The words that don’t work, my lips don’t know those shapes.
Like a house settling into itself so deeply the doors will not fit
their moldings, locks shrink to keep out their keys.
The airy rooms that hold light in summer usher in the cold
through shadows as they fall under winter.

I know we speak the same language,
but I also feel your words take residence
and settle habitual in the back of my throat.
Still, I say instead, the highway’s backed up,
I wouldn’t take it.

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