As If Light Could Ever Be the Answer (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.

*Originally published in Stirring Literary Journal in 2016.

Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer in the Pacific Northwest, where she coproduces the Bellingham Kitchen Sessions reading series. She is the author of Object Permanence (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems have appeared in various publications, including Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and Natural Bridge. Elizabeth Vignali and Kami Westhoff’s collaborative manuscript Your Body a Bullet was a semifinalist in the 2017 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook competition.

Kami Westhoff is the author of Sleepwalker, which won the 2016 Dare to Be Chapbook Contest from Minerva Rising. Her work has appeared in various journals including Meridian, Passages North, Third Coast, Eclectica, Waxing, and West Branch. She teaches creative writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Kami Westhoff and Elizabeth Vignali’s collaborative manuscript Your Body a Bullet was a semifinalist in the 2017 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook competition.

Photography by Anastasia Taioglou.

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