Windswept, Mam walked the shore
with her offerings: a chest full of gulls,
a numbness deeper than all sleep.
Wading into the roar
until she was up to her neck in it,
she’d slip off her feet,
shed her heavy sense of emptiness.
She’d wait forever for a glimpse of seal
despite the north wind slapping her backwards
and the fella who stole her skin
waiting up on the dunes.
Even moonlight died on him.
A man full to the brim with drink.
Most nights he’d beat the tides out of us
and threaten to carve his name on her,
button my lip with a fishhook.
After the storms,
we’d wander the beach or she’d reel me up
from sleep in the small hours to float me
in the gentle rise and fall of her grief.
Many a night I found her calling out
to the water in the same…
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