poem: selkie child

selkie child
 
i.
maybe she was pulled
too soon
from the inland sea –
 
submerged
ten months
resisting pleas,
exorcising February heat
and vindaloo.
 
maybe forceps
were the spirit
snagging
trauma
of netting
beyond consciousness.
 
ii.
 
ridged extremities
are swimming’s
reproach:
but she appears
still forming
 
salt-rubbed, her skin
mere underlay
to foam neoprene;
 
her eyes enduringly
without horizon,
stem cell
rock pools.
 
iii.
 
maybe it is our ancestry
in this coastal town,
something
in the water.
 
opinions, medical
and otherwise
sought or unsolicited:
 
let her swim 24/7
she’ll tire of it
soon enough
 
(but even seal lions
sleep, overlapped
as summer foliage
on the rock commune.
nightly the reenactment
her bed hosts,
toy seals prop
her head and limbs);
 
you’re enablers –
cut off the supply,
give her normal
child interests
 
(salt water withdrawal,
her prone form
in grass, a dark cut
of seaweed, self consoling
with intermittent southerly
breeze.)
 
iv.
our fridge calendar lacks
extra-curriculars – booked out
by shoreline vigils,
private lifeguard shifts.
her drowning impossible
we supervise innate
attraction, corporeal vocation
 
the undertow indiscriminately conducted
by water, air, earth
corralling her
to the sea lion colony.
 
vi.
in the hall cavity
a chronology of wetsuits, outgrown
selkie skins
archived in sanctity, more
organic than
baby teeth.
 
when lock-down begins
at dusk’s hour of enlivenment
she retreats there,
 
gazing at
ebony origami
sculpted for her
in cave dim.
tonight she allowed
me, and folded
limbs into the observatory.
 
we are underwater
contemplating
the surface from
beneath.
 
 
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