Daughter Drowning - a poem

after Fiona Benson


Eldest born with summer hair, skin blooming in spring,

the salty sweet scent of promise

in the grass, in the softness between finger and thumb.


She stands unheard at the gated shore,

negotiating fruitlessly with the tides,

empty bottles held in her hands;


prays for a selkie, for a ship with a mermaid prow and ears

to send and deliver the scrapped messages she has for the sea,

the rush of waves slick with violent dreams,

every word she wishes into the beyond:


where water fills her lungs,

bottoms up her heart and wets ribs with drowning, with changing,

with the sharp sting of Ariel growing legs

— shattered glass —

water in her eyes until she finds herself again,

eldest born, a bloated husk on the ocean floor,


salt pulling at her lashes.