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[Poetry] Three Poems by Jessamyn Fairfield

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

Arctic Terns

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


Sea Child

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.


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