Here and There
In the sea
Out here in the bay,
relics of deep memory
float in driftwood cages,
Ink clouds of shame,
fronds of silence,
Light slits the clouds, up in the distance,
Their world calls, quiet, insistent.
soft, sucking noise as gills retract,
pain as raw lungs balloon with air,
slippery softness of wet limbs.
Walk across the beach,
– odd, rollicking sensation –
find my balance,
hide my peeled tail
behind the lifeguard’s shed,
under a slimy mound of kelp.
how the careless sea has flung shells across the sand,
miracles of construction,
no longer needed,
free, worthless treasures.
So that’s where they go.
A voice inside, thin as air,
whispers a warning,
I’m crossing into destruction and greed.
Ignore it, brush plastic grains from my hair.
In the town
Taste of soot in my mouth,
scream of machines on the street.
At sunset, the murky sky turns purple, like a bruise.
In the pub they’re beguiled when I sing,
they know it’s not the cadence of this place,
but can’t say why.
I hide a smile.
The one who guesses is kind,
treats me as though I belong.
But even he doesn’t see
my only true words are my song.
I was warned if I came here, I could not speak,
as though my ocean silence was not fathoms deep.
Autumn buries the houses in leaves
on the day that I break down
– go back –
mourning my decision,
not in hopeless black,
in orange, yellow, red, brown.
As I hurry towards the shore
the horizon is a dark rule across grey,
as though my sisters had underlined the sky
in eye pencil to mark my return.
Striding over shingle to the roiling green,
feel for the last time,
my calves, ankles, soles, toes,
every muscle and tendon,
the airy separateness of each leg.
I’ve grown used to these twigs,
but my desire is for my solidity,
the shiver of scales on my haunch
when I dive off rocks,
the tease of warm currents
as I power through glassy water.
Near the shore, waves leave strings of soda bubbles
like beads on the sand.
Beside a hank of dulse there’s a pouch,
black as a beetle’s back,
tendrils trailing into the garnet ribbons.
They called it a mermaid’s purse,
as though we needed coins,
or their half-truths and dark imaginings,
we knew all along it nurtured a shark.
Silence has pared me down to the bone.
I dive into water,
I turn into foam.
Paintings: Cathy Dillon and Áine Teahan
Áine Teahan is a fine art and professional photographic artist. http://www.aineteahan.com/