-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Andra Simons

\

Turtlemen: Return of the Selkie

My last love was found tucked in the pocket of an old Selkie from the bays off Scotland. He had become a primed London geezer who skipped along Seven Sisters to catch fish at the mongers. Every so often he would miss the waters of Dundee and he’d unwrap from under our wobbly bed a thrice-folded worn sealskin cloak, throw it around his slender shoulders and slide toward the tub. He would run the Thames through a tap and tell Scottish tales that danced on tunes. I’d join him sometimes in the cloudy bath, he’d slap and chuckle and clap his hands, lean to kiss me, tickle my lip with his white wet whiskers. I once, before bed, let him massage my etched back. He claimed his people could translate our symbols ‘THIS one is the current of the Atlantic. THIS one is its moon. THIS one is shelter, blown down years too soon’. That night I could smell the aged sweet dried salt on his pelt and touched his rolling ribs beneath it as I pulled him close – I had read the books he gave me months before, though it was a practice of mine to never read the end of fairytales. With the morning larks’ laughter my beast grew thinner. As the sun perched herself on the Highbury shelf for the morning, while I typed poems out of recycled yesterday’s spills in the other room, after almost half a century, a flickering light in his eyes heralded him back. He transformed on our kitchen floor with a thousand small tremors. Saturday 3:36pm fixed with tubes and morphine, I turned my head away from him as a swimmer does reaching for air. Yet, in the immenseness between those light pulsed seconds my old Selkie dived and fiercely trembled free. Within that dark cerulean, the slowing of the hand through the wave, I failed to carry him to the ocean-side, to let him grow accustomed to the cold north sea again, I wasn’t there to wail ‘swim swim’ to support him from under his belly as he kicked out toward the estuary. I wasn’t there to whisper our secrets into the ebb or whistle. Or whistle. Or whistle.

 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------