Ridges in my fingernails––   

worrisome trenches, etchings that  

presage diseases and loss, niches where 

suspicion insinuates itself. Instead I summon:  

ridges of my knuckles, thumb-tucked fists,   

taut brown skin tallowed over the bone   

as I brace to take on the icy lake, 

to punch the water’s skin; 

my small cupped fingers  

when I tug the flood, and all the 

ridges of my ribs in their shaking cage,

heart knocking hard on its horizontal bars.

Sand bars plait the bottom of the lake,                 

looming grooves in a gaping mouth;  

I will myself to be a gilled-girl,     

swallowed whole.

Wake upon the water 

corrugates like rippled steel.               

Between my breaths I hear the wind  

thimbling the ridges of washboard grey.   

In undulant swells of remembering I float,

golden-headed, blending into sunsets, 

my fingers digging liquid furrows, 

tilling summer, planting these

memories of when I was 

unafraid of omens 

in the ridges 

in my nails. 

Laurie Koensgen lives in Ottawa, Canada where she advocates for the Arts. Her poems have appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, Literary Review of Canada, Barren Magazine, Juniper: A Poetry Journal, Kissing Dynamite, Burning House Press, Black Bough Poetry, and elsewhere. She was shortlisted for The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons Award for Poetry 2018, and received Honourable Mentions in Arc’s Diana Brebner Prize 2018 and The New Quarterly’s Occasional Verse Contest 2019. Laurie is a founding member of the Ruby Tuesdays poetry collective. @EkeLore.