This poem first appeared in ‘Book of Dreams’ (United Press)
These were the spells the children knew,
the ones they learnt in that place
where the sand sucks in the sea.
The heads bobbed up like seals
and drew closer, their large fish tails
of golden scales rippling,
their torsos greener than ours
and more beautiful.
They taught the little ones
to swim deeper than anyone else,
to make the fishermen’s nets
swell fat with fish,
to turn the tide to their advantage
and make sure no sea-storm
would ever harm their kin.
All this they taught the children
whose lungs filled up with salty gulps,
until they swum with webs of flesh
and gills between their ribs.