Kami Westhoff & Elizabeth Vignali


(amber snail to the green-banded broodsac)

The green-banded broodsac is a behavior-altering flatworm that causes the snail to seek the light it usually avoids. The flatworm occupies the snail's eye stalk and pulsates, mimicking the appearance of a caterpillar, so a nearby bird—the definitive host—might be tricked into eating the parasite.

You prod me, shrinking,
into the light. My tender
eye capitulates to your toothed
body, stretches to accommodate
the desire of your movement.

You hatched this craving
for light, the urge for the greenest
leaf, the highest branch. I trust
in all the wrong things: breeze
and bird, the bright scrutinizing
loupe of sun.

I glide up the pendulous sedge,
paint its stalk glossy, bend
it slender with my weight.

You pulse behind my sight,
your image inescapable,
soft-focus and all mouth.

One day soon a beak will split us,
slit you and my sight from its stalk.
The sun once again the nucleus of fear,
the grass stretched toward it
as if light could ever be the answer.

Kami Westhoff's work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including Meridian, Phoebe, Third Coast, Carve, Sundog Lit, decomp, Prism Review, The Pinch, Redivider, and Passages North. She teaches Creative Writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.

Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer. Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Crab Creek Review, Nimrod, Floating Bridge Review, and Menacing Hedge. Her chapbook, Object Permanence, is available from Finishing Line Press. She lives in Bellingham, Washington with her daughters, a venerable Chihuahua, and two geriatric cats.

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