the sea-wives

we were mothers once
but the water called us away. look at these hips
for birthing, they say, but also broad like bowls, like boats

we are sea-wives
salty siblings of the wright whale, the porpoise,
the supple grey seal with her winter layer
the heavy-bottomed otter.

fishwives? aye, perhaps.
marriage is a mud-thick memory of pins, locks and little legs, dinner on the table, long nights in the attic
or the cellar.

now we sing our shanties
haul in shoals with these our shoulders
weave our nets on the wilder days
eat nothing but seaweed and fish
drink only storm rains
and rum.

nothing’S true but change.
one day roiling mercury
one day still as a dusty mirror
one day a rippling sapphire cloth

then it’s urgent and heaving, spattering and crashing, and you think
it wants to talk, it’s very important, and you get down there to listen, and it drenches you in nonsense, like

«mother doesn’t give a shit.»

we long since quit the illusion of
ground beneath foot, of
solidity, stability.

ha! behold these shifting sands.
the earth moves daily.
so we build our altar in the tide
and make a vanishing church of this and every shore.