I never could hold
the taxidermy turtle
without wincing at the
decay that was not there
instead I took down the conch shell
with its former inhabitants
dried and disintegrated
and pressed it to my ear
hearing a faint shushing sound
when really it came from the waves outside
which died down every night as the gulf
receded to reveal the slimy, combed
sand that turtles could be born in,
might be born in, will be born in.
when the athan breaks across the sky
the seas come back to pray. I will
believe most things easily. I will believe
the turtle is alive and the conch shell
controls the sea and that prayer leads
to answers because what’s worse: knowing
that dead things sit in the chest
damp from polish, that an empty home
filters the sounds from outside, that
my father’s rage comes in waves,
or believing that if I am good enough
I could press my ear to his chest
and know.