Selkie

Her face like a river-beaten stone on the day she rolled
from the city of white walls,
and pebbly loch.
On a crush of wind, where her footprints
of scented ikra, met tarmac
and her foreign talk stuck black as oxen.
She fed love for money. She wrapped her children in sheets, and wished they would die
She would bathe naked in the light, vine-plump
and like a pulling back of skin for teeth
reveal her scars.
Nobody saw much of her after a while. Only in red
when autumn rocked its leaves,
in the bay of her window
where her body showed milky under the gauze.
I hear she died in agony.
They found her with a cigarette,
and a needle sticking out of her arm.
Her skin at last, blue, thick as a seal’s.

© Helen Calcutt – first published in The London Magazine 2012

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