Memoirs of a Selkie Child by Joanne Key

I am not a silent poet

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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