Fish Spells

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.

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