Every day she was dying, the sea walked into her room
surging up green and vestigial
around her hospital bed. It stank. Smell of fish
and rotting seaweed as the nurses huddled around her drip lines. I hated
this terrible current. Asked my father what to do about these neap tides.
All of our eyes were dry. See, whenever my mother wanted ocean
we answered her with forest; her eyes were blue
but all of ours were brown. I feel bad about it now. So she kept
the sea to herself, and later I came in search of it;
went keening after seabirds at high tide, begging to be sucked down
into the drowned cathedral. If I ever return to the forest
let me be limned with salt, muscles straining
in my mermaid arms, dragging my terrible current.
Neap-eyes, seaweed-eyes, blue as the weeping shoreline.
Let none of them even know me.
Pea soup for the end of our journeys. Taste of sun
and salt. Crust of the crusty bread, cabin in the woods
forest opens its arms to us. Home, not a syllable
but a blanket woven of wool smoke
and the death of autumn. Our mother digging her hands
in, drawing summer peas and sunshine
out of the black earth. Dill beans in winter,
a mountainous bounty of zucchini. Fawns fattened themselves
on the asparagus; gangs of hooligan raccoons
always came for the corn. Her garden was so generous
she had to drench it in deer blood
just to keep the forest out. Herb-spell,
deer-spell; thyme and peppermint
for the aphids. They knew what was precious
even when we did not. Mother, I’m sorry
I will never eat peas again.
Jenny Williamson is a poet and fiction writer living in Brooklyn. Her work is published in journals including 24cc, East Coast Literary Review, Burningwood Literary Journal, and Vox Poetica. Her poetry chapbook, Collection of Flaws in a Black Dress, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016, and she is the co-host of the Ancient History Fangirl podcast. More of her work can be found here: www.jennywilliamson.com