Ctenophore Soul

A soul is birthed
sealed shut.
fragile membrane
cocoons the glistening fluid,
clear and rich with possibles:
ichor mixed with tears.

Gentle, now;
surface tension.
Clutch your shimmering,
sea-jelly soul
that caught sunlight
in its depths somewhere.

If it still remains unbroken,
make a tear—
just enough
for the soul-stuff
to trickle out into the world
and leave its mark.

Just enough
for a little dust to find an in
—a syllable, a song,
someone else’s dream—
foreign bodies seed
and mix the sterile brew
with potentiality.

The soul, it likes to
close up—shell—
to heal around the breach.
But stay torn,
stay open,


Let your cells
germinate the monstrous and sublime;
let meld, let fuse
with alien particulates,
mutate into a thing
entirely new—

Give it sunlight and a lifetime
and some truth
and there you’ll have


Rita Chen

Rita Chen is a disabled cyborg witch who spends a lot of time worrying about the human condition. She lives with her partner, her fibromyalgia, and her autism in Edmonton, Alberta. Her poetry has appeared in Uncanny, Liminality, Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction, and Polu Texni. Find her on Twitter @expositionist.

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