October 7, 2020

Holding Pond

Kristin Garth

Gills desiccating, you glide through his house,

hair towel dried, Oxford shirt, slouched, secured 

with belt made oversized dress — yours doused

in his tank, under duress. Damp, demure

while you saunter down bifurcated stairs,

some guests the servants were unaware, out

his front door then driveway, street. Unprepared —

bare bottoms of shoeless feet, unknown route

towards a sea, where, submerged, the gilled  

go free — shuffle, bleed, you’re suffering to breathe,

daydreaming estuaries of distilled 

glee, mermaids peering through lily pads leaves. 

Asphyxiating in suburban dawn,

you climb a fence, float in a holding pond.


In America today, as I write this, we have a new President-Elect. I find it fitting because the current president played a role in this story of Girlarium, of which Holding Pond is a part. The main character of Girlarium, the gilled girl, Gilda Sheen has so many fears and concerns not only about her physically changing body (the gills she has grown and displaced her from the “human” world) but also the government which might weaponize her difference.

There is a sonnet I wrote called Hangouts in which Gilda speaks to Joseph Q. Youmans in a Google Hangouts. Youmans is one of a couple of powerful male villains in this book. The two are speaking about a couple of other powerful men who are oppressing Gilda includes an orange president. She realizes, because a CIA operative is seeking her talents to serve her government (in the Trump era), she must escape this fate.

It just feels like an awesome day to publish a new part of Gilda’s story in which she finally escapes oppression at the same time that the country has declared its own change and new path. The personal is political even for the teenage girls in all of us, including myself. Gilda hasn’t made it to the freedom and adventure of the sea yet but she is on her way, and it feels that way today for many of us in America.