• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 03
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My mother was mermaid silver
all secret scales & fishtail flicks
she changed the air to wave-spray
& like that she disappeared
a fish-oily slide from the holdfast
from small hands greedy pleading
quicksand for our sand-sucked feet
she shoogle-shifted these slakit shores

weaned on tears we were set adrift,
salt-wound cut from her dulsey cord
this briny mother we’d locked to land
ochre smoked & tobacco wreathed
her mermaid’s purse bled scarlet polish
lipstick veered vermillion to her sharky teeth
painted in the shapes of woman & wife
she was costumed in dances & ‘divil may care’

but her landward legs (not real at all)
failed & flipped under the toil of gravity
& when she could not take herself
we took the ceaseless sea to her
buckets of Atlantic from Skelligs
from Derrynane we bathed her feet
drenched her earth-drained ankles
& hailed her selkie heart to leap



never ours she reared us to the seal’s lament
to know flit days that come like clouds
storm-borne the ocean railed her ribs
made the baleen of her belly boil
no anchor tempted this tempest to tame
to un-turmoil the love she shook like sand
her flailed swim from the haven of us
showered saline-sour on our earthy paws.

Salt-crust crystals at these memories
brittled dulse stranded from the tides
a straw-parched caul slid from her turn-tail
when last she slipped her skin to return to the ebb