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Alone in the deep shore
Diving ten meters into the pressure
With only a single monocle, as big as an eggplant,
Covering her eyes and nose

She’s like an astronaut
Yet she leaves no footprint,
She stakes no claim,
And she takes no other breathing equipment
Except her own, that is
Her own breath

Her face bares lines of habitual struggle
Habitual pressure
Habitual strain

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse
in the midst of the waters, and let it
separate the waters from the waters.’
And God made the expanse
and separated the waters that were under
the expanse from the waters that were above
the expanse.  And it was so. 
And God called the expanse Heaven. 
And there was evening and there was
morning, the second day.”—Genesis 1:6-8

In 2014 South Korea applied to have “Hae-nyeo”
added to UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list
There isn’t a lot of mythos
Around these Korean sirens.
Traditionally a line of work handed down
from mother to daughter,
They harvest conch, abalone, octopus
Often strapping lead weights
around their waists to help them
Sink faster

These mermaids look more like seals
Slippery, glossy, velvet,
Or otters, clutching a single buoy.
And, while no man is an island
These women are individual stars
scattered in the expanse, in
the wet, sopping heavens

This is the sort of women gang
I know to be homed by
a cuteness that is actually crass
a cackle that is acutely feminine
and a salted grit of a laden grimace
A bodily comedy of labor

To me they reference
an arching range, everything
From Ana Mendieta to Sponge-bob
And never not,
my maternal family
my Hal-mo-nee, a
single mother raising four children
alone across the pacific

Naomi was also a single mother
And a widow
The Hebrew Bible accounts the story of Naomi
And her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Foreign Ruth who clings to her
Hebrew mother-in-law,
Choosing to stay strange
In Biblical Hebrew, words
with the same three root consonants
articulate a relation to one another.
Each resulting word is assorted by the subtle
alteration of vowels, of breath.
The root consonants for “foreign” and “make strange” are
Nun Kaf Resh
the same root for “know” and “to recognize”
Each, merely distinct in their breathing patterns.

These free divers know their
job is strange and severe. Their daughters’
would rather save their breath
for the hotel industry in Jeju,
or depart across the water to the mainland.
Hae-nyeo is a dying tradition
With most of the divers over 60 years old,
some still diving at 90

Yvonne Rainer said
“Aging is the ultimate goal and hurdle…
I tell myself, ‘Yvonne, keep on reading your texts,
but continue to dance, aches and all…
Dance, girl, dance, and to all who observe me,
I challenge you, ‘Pity me not’.

At the premiere of Rainer’s 2019 renewal
of her 1965 piece, Parts of Some Sextets
Yvonne Rainer is wearing a navy-blue shirt;
its blue is so warm that it almost looks purple. 
Brittany Engel-Adams, a dancer sitting next to Rainer
in the front row of the audience, is
An iteration of Rainer’s most recent self.
She is the body who engages, belongs,
then slinks back down.  As if summoned.  
She watches and engages,
she is fluid between these worlds. 
At one point, she is led off stage by Yvonne herself, as Rainer
gently holds her arm to guide her back.

Undulating, like a wave, Rainer through Engel-Adams ebbs
on the shore.  Breaking and reestablishing the borders, the boundaries.  

In the past, dried abalone was such
a prized delicacy for Korean Elites that Hae-nyeo
would free dive into the cold ocean
Even when pregnant

Women as intangible cultural heritage
The same laden grimace
of menstruating, potty mouth,
breastfeeding, diaper changes,
The bodily comedy of labor
As in, “You can’t hold us.
We made you”