Until Something Fell
before you existed
I sailed to the frozen lands
and dove into the killing sea
to find home, to find you
in the storm at the end of all things
legs braced against the water
as each wave curled into bloom
foam like blood under the fading twilight
until a swell like glorious roses
catches my chest and I go under
bearing you, silent and whole
as I am floating
in these saline waters
so you shelter in my darkness,
both of us alive, both of us well
whose migration from pole to pole is by far the longest known
If you are my child, love, the world is
an ocean cradling your buoyant form,
endless expanses beneath the starry empyrean
If you are a girl, we will exult–
I will clear the stones onto my own back
so that your body, which could now fit into my hand,
will spring upwards unbent
I will show you the roots of injustice
and teach you to find the softest moss
the feathers for our nest
I will fold my wings around you
‘til you can summit the highest craggy peaks
brave in the face of danger and hardship
If you are a boy, we will listen–
I will guard you from the poisons
which fade then bloom again across all things
I will teach you to dive straight
into the glittering chop and swell
deep outside your own element
I will not settle for anything less than kindness
and show you the many facets of joy
and the infinite paths to the green glade
You will always find a harbor, a safe shore among
the wide reaches that are ours, across the desert
and the shadowed seas, lit
by the verdant fire
of australis and
The shore is a far smudge on the horizon
when I finally see the rocks,
still in the shifting waves.
My arms ache as I near,
lifting my head to sight
every fifth stroke.
The high sun illuminates my arcing hands
through the cold, clear water.
Below, the fade to murky teal,
broken by tendrils of kelp.
A small boy with pale hair perches on the rocks.
His eyes like distant mountains
watch as I tread water,
off the rock shelf
tumbling into the depths.
You swim well,
he calls in a reedy tern-like voice.
I can carry you to shore, I cry, tasting salt water.
He laughs. I’m not in danger, not alone.
The seals show me their diving places,
where to find the lion’s mane and compass jellyfish,
how the sea reaches toward the moon.
Look, standing all a-gangle,
You aren’t alone either. See how in the water,
the krill and diatoms cover your skin
like diamond scales, shoals of herring
mirroring your motion
I feel the long years of the bay
lifting me in cycles of high and low.
He descends the rocks easily,
his small body submerging.
Arrowpoint hands cleaving the sea,
he flows cetacean-like,
until his dark head bobs beside me.
He dives and I follow,
undulating below the surface,
and the silvery waves bear us onward—
Jessamyn Fairfield is a writer based in Galway, Ireland whose work has previously appeared in Crannóg, Consilience, and The Toast. She is also a new mother, and her poems combine nature, science, and emotional truth.