Jenna Le


Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Denver Quarterly, The Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere. She has a B.A. in mathematics and an M.D. and works as a physician in New Hampshire.


Standing Between My Parents at Manatee Lagoon

My sister took this photo, and I like,
well, everything about it:

its mostly cool
blue palette, challenged here and there by spiky
aneurysmal daubs of red;

the cruel
sharpness with which noon light outlines our faces
so that our proud straight selves resemble three
rock monuments;

the wide and even spaces
that separate us, gaps where, quietly,
with creeping certainty, the sea intrudes;

the invisibility of the manatees,
which you must take on faith, for all that you’d
prefer to see hard proof of their brown creased
skins simmering in the shallows and not rely
on trust,

my false friend;
    the sunless, sun-hot sky.

Manatee Lagoon is located in West Palm Beach, Florida. Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed removing manatees from the endangered species list, but manatees still die frequently from speedboat collisions and other human-caused fatalities