Kelsey Ipsen

Kelsey Ipsen’s work has appeared in wigleaf, jmww journal, PANK, Hobart, and Columbia Journal, among others. She lives in France with her husband and half-wild cat. You can find her here: and on twitter @felimnn.

SALT IN THE BODY by Kelsey Ipsen

Ghosts do not come to me because I grew up by the ocean and my body is still full of salt.

Girl; all limbs, all eyes and sudden fearlessness, dared the waves to become bigger and they did. And of course she was sucked under, tossed about, close enough to death. Of course she was rag-doll, rag-doll, rag-doll. Remember when your body was your body but now it is not. The feeling is like this. I know my body is other things, is waves, is salt. Is once a house/a host/a body with another body’s cells in it. The other body’s cells are still inside me, touching my own cells, and we will be like this forever. An adult body contains 250g of salt meaning I am a walking mix of salt and you. Meaning I was right all along while I was under the waves thinking this is it, thinking this is what I really am. Women understand that ownership of the body is an untruth. I think men only discover this when they are dying. 

If I have one piece of advice it is this: if you have not yet learned to be terrified of the ocean you should learn to be terrified of the ocean.

I have heard a needle inside me break through to water like an explosion. I have heard shells chaotic over each other as the ocean breathes out. We are all crashing against each other. We are all life trapped in flesh gods trying. We are only meant to be born screaming. I only wanted your loudest sound.

Noises in the night can be explained away by morning, but the depths of the ocean will just swallow you whole.

Whispers in my ear are not spiritual phenomena, they are voices from me telling me something I don’t want to hear but need to hear: Don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget the shape of your abdomen, duneless. Don’t forget the length of arms, you can use them to reach in, to grab someone out of the waves, to make someone bird—forever sky, never drowning. 

The depths of the ocean, when explained, are still uninhabitable.

I cannot follow you if you do not scream, baby. Scream. Small kicks can’t sound louder than this. You only ever heard me. You only ever heard me from under water.

Ghosts, when explained, will let the water flow right through them.

I am the ocean and you are the ghost. I am still here without you here. I want to know how to breathe when I can’t breathe. I need to know that the salt in my body will surface me. I need to know that the next wave makes sound. I need to know that the next wave makes something other than this.

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