Illustration by Julia Jeffrey of Stonemaiden Art
Sometimes when we fight,
I want to slip on my seal skin
and disappear beneath the waves.
I warned you when we married
there are only so many times
I can drink my own tears
before the ocean comes frothing
and roaring to claim me,
because the ocean loves her daughters
and doesn’t take kindly to men.
The moon glinted full and fat-bellied
over the sharp steel and spires
the night we first met.
Your kiss was the carbon of earth and of beer,
and I, intoxicated,
could not drink enough.
We spelled each other’s names
high above the river
and in the factory far beneath us
in the early morning hours
came the soft smell of yeast and
freshly baked bread.
I followed you south like a snowbird,
body bright with the promise of dunes and bath water,
to a land where mosquitos bit like wildfire,
where haints lingered in front hallways
and bottles decked trees
to keep away the dead.
Where were my rocks and my mosses,
My shaley-cold waters of green?
Where there were dunes and bath water, there were dishes to scour
and laundry to fold.
I tucked my seal skin away
where it moldered and stank
as my body grew old.
One night I’ll break free,
and hair streaming behind
I’ll race for the beach.
The wind, brackish and thick
will soften the air
and cling to my cheek.
I won’t be able to hear you
over the sound of my feet
pounding the wood
the roar of the water
the hot lure of sand.
Around me the sea-brush will twist and sing,
sheltering the boardwalk
in a thousand arches:
a tunnel of green
that will carry me away
back to the sea.
Julia Jeffrey is a Scottish artist and illustrator. Her fairy and fantasy-themed work has been featured in numerous international fantasy magazines and her first tarot deck, The Tarot of the Hidden Realm, was published in 2013. Learn more at stonemaiden-art.com.