Poetry / Natalie E. Illum
:: My Fear of Water Came Later ::
My family doesn’t like the desert air. We prefer low-tide to high altitudes; coastal highways to mountain. We don’t ski. We charter. We choose our bait with precision. We don’t let the lines go slack. We hunt the Mako because we can.We don’t relish a shoreline. We forget we live so close to what most would pay dearly for. We aren’t moved by the stunning sunsets. My father named his boat Bite Me. That isn’t a joke. We made fun of my mother. Whenever she said I pacifically told you not to do that. She wasn’t born here, but she is a water sign. Said if I’m drowning I should try to play dead and hope the Coast Guard finds me in time and face up. We don’t fear the riptide we live in. We just call our flying dishes fish. We imagine all our broken glass finds its way into the Atlantic for some sweet kid to discover; our arguments finally smoothed enough to call treasure. Look how pretty we are now. The light hits us just right.
From the writer
:: Account ::
How much of one’s life becomes fluid over time—memory as salt water, paint, fear? These poems are held together by the cartilage of the past—it weakens, bends and sometimes heals over time. But there is still a film, scarring from any tear. Here is a slide show of stains throughout the body of my house.
Natalie E. Illum is a poet, disability activist and singer living in Washington, D.C. She is the recipient of three Poetry Fellowship Grants from the D.C. Arts Commission and a former Jenny McKean Moore Fellow. She was a founding board member of mothertongue, an LGBTQIA open mic that lasted 15 years. She competed on the National Poetry Slam circuit and was the 2013 Beltway Grand Slam Champion. Her work has appeared in various publications, and on NPR’s Snap Judgement. Natalie has an MFA in Creative Writing from American University and was a Teaching Artist for Poetry Out Loud. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter as @poetryrox, and as one half of the band All Her Muses, whose debut album is being released this Fall. Natalie also enjoys whiskey and giraffes.