Image by Jaël Vallée

WHIMSY

the madrigal, volume iii

Lichen

by rachel handley

I could never touch

my toes as a kid,

trying had nowt to
do with it, thinking

and doing cannot

reach each other

from willpower alone.

You did not believe
me, just try, bend your

body into its
opposite, do it,
try, try. Courteous
of you to forge rules
I spat back out. Still,
I feel you in each
Fresh effort, pressure

between fingers, toes.

Bend. As I’m bending
I watch a lichen
become my new skin

Waves slip from my feet.

I tower over
what is left. A home
for tide pool stars with

no power. Except,
when cut by spite they

grow, reveal new limbs

like they were only

joking. I bend to
a starfish. Lending
it my fingers as

antennae, a wet

communion to ask
if I am gentle.

I’m a poet, writer, and philosophy academic based in Dublin, Ireland. My poetry has been
published in Dreich Magazine and is forthcoming in The Liminal Review. My debut short story
collection will be published in June 2022 by Ellipsis Imprints.