My Crocodile Body

Ava Ploeckelman

I pick at the skin around  

my nails, a replacement for biting  

them, and sometimes I am surprised to  

find my skin still soft. It always looks 

the same, but it should feel like the rough  

hide of a crocodile. I lie  

to strangers. I claim to be younger  

than I am so that  

it is illegal to bother me, I pretend to  

have teeth. I pretend I am  

a protected species.  

I have a long face, even  

when I smile: teeth interlocked, breathing through  

my road rash skin, I would never try to intimidate, but  

I don’t want to fix my ability to make proselytizers  

leave me alone, I don’t want to fix  

the assumptions people make about swimming around me.  

I am young and ancient and unchanged.  

Darwin doesn’t like me.  

I could change, I do  

sometimes, but I am only good at one thing, 

I am so good underwater, that nobody else thinks I should change,  

Nobody would call me static, or unadaptable.  

Only specific. I am specific.  

Contributor's Note

Ava Ploeckelman is a junior studying Biology and minoring in Classical Studies. She is a member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega, which technically makes her a frat bro. For fun, she takes ballroom dance classes. She hopes she will never have to use it for high-stakes international espionage, but she is prepared for the possibility. She participates in an URCA laboratory that studies termite microbiomes, and denies any allegations of being a mad scientist.