The aquatint process involves biting with acid a fine network of lines around grains of resin; the tiny etched channels hold ink that prints as a veil of tone.—The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The blackest black is what’s next—digging in the copper plate
till it prints blacker than black. That’s what I want, that black.
I want to see what I’ll find there. Nevermind that the ground

unexpectedly lifts, so the plate will only print light.
Light, and marks like the path of a crab,
scratch of a mermaid’s purse

as it lands with spiral necklaces that stink at the edge
of the sea—dead and living things, mollusks
with pop-up mouths that gape when the waves roll back.

Are the good ones ever most fit? What’s the machinery
of it? Something deep in the gizzard sings a sweet song,
and the legs and hands move to the sound,

and the copper in the blood feels it bite—what not to say first,
then what to say and how to say it, how to scratch away
and be the way I am.


Alyssa Chase graduated from the Butler University MFA program in poetry in 2015. She holds undergraduate degrees in English and studio art. Her poems have been published in The Greensboro Review and Mothers Always Write. A professional writer and editor, she lives with her family and two beagles in Indianapolis.




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