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liminal - audrey t. carroll


it is easy to get confused

in these spaces between:


in the Yaeyama Islands where land meets sea

the beaches are littered with dead stars—

not the five-point regenerator

of arms, but single-celled organisms

for whom taxonomy is a mess


(all taxonomy is a mess)


the sands all exoskeletons,

beaches built of broken bones

shaped like stars, their shells

called tests (it is all tests)



it is easy to get confused

in these spaces between:


shores are nothing but blurred

edges, wondering where one thing

stops and another burns, like salt

in a wound—so little proof of any pain

within, heavier on the burden

because feelings don’t count for much

besides invisible nuisance, evidence

of hysteria; the body should withstand

the crashing of sea; the body looks like

it should withstand the crashing

of the sea, where absence meets

space, and yet the body wilts under

so little pressure, as though

there is something more,

tides moved by invisible forces



it is easy to get confused

in these spaces between:


a child reaching for the eye-catching—

she swears it sea glass, translucent and beached,

but a mother scolds her ignorance

of what is obviously a jellyfish; so many

times, what looks soft and glittering can scar



it is easy to get confused

in these spaces between:


what the body wants cannot separate from

what the mind wants cannot separate from

what the spirit wants cannot separate from

the approval of man plus woman equals child

the approval of woman equals femme

the approval of shrinking all desires


that deviate, but still the body wants


the mind wants the spirit wants


and it is more than the approved, all along

a spectrum, tides rising and falling against

a shore, the broken bones of expectations—


rhyme, but no reason, desire

beyond boxes so prettily wrapped


to love to want to need


to swim freely to feel the sharp edges


and still remain


even if it is easy to get confused

in these spaces between:

black sands from eroded fragments

of volcanoes; nothing is so grand

that it can escape judgments

of the elements, naturally



in these spaces between, there are stories:

a whole beach of sea glass, free from scars

of stinging invertebrates, splendor fashioned

from remnants of earthquake


(even land can shake its foundations

and force the world into something new)



Audrey T. Carroll is the author of the What Blooms in the Dark (ELJ Editions, 2024) and Parts of Speech: A Disabled Dictionary (Alien Buddha Press, 2023). Her writing has appeared in Lost Balloon, CRAFT, JMWW, Bending Genres, and others. She is a bi/queer/genderqueer and disabled/chronically ill writer. She serves as a Diversity & Inclusion Editor for the Journal of Creative Writing Studies, and as a Fiction Editor for Chaotic Merge Magazine. She can be found at http://AudreyTCarrollWrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter/Instagram.

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