The sea beckoned, it sang its alluring song, and you followed.
I blame myself really. I always knew that water had a hold over you. It drew you to it just as the moon draws the tides. And I never tried to break the enchantment. What chance did I have? A mortal mother can’t compete against such primal forces. In my powerlessness, I did the best I could and nourished your natural predilections. Instead of standing firm and cutting your ever extending bathtimes short, I bought you bottles of bubble bath and rubber aquatic creatures that squeaked. For your fifth birthday, I surprised you with a paddling pool that I set up in the middle of our back garden. Your own little oasis of water on the untrimmed suburban lawn. And in the summers of your blossoming youth, I took you to the sea. I don’t think I ever saw you happier than that first day we went to Tenterhooks Bay. The look on your face when you first emerged from the salty water. You were finally home.
With each successive visit your strokes grew stronger, your dives deeper. With a gulp of air, you’d vanish under sea, resurfacing after what felt like an age, fist first; the triumphant aquanaut returning with a handful of gloopy sunken moon dust that glittered in the golden sun.
Then six months ago, you went for your final swim. You took Siobhan and Rory to show off your beloved bay, but you never returned. What happened love? You who could outswim an otter. You who could put a seal to shame. How could you not resist the violent tug of the undertow? Some days, when the grief becomes too much, I lie on your bed for hours, surrounded by your things, and think of the moment the sea took you away. I imagine the rush of water pushing down your throat, pressing against your insides. But maybe its purpose wasn’t destruction. Maybe the water was giving you new life, reconditioning your lungs, re-configuring your biology from the inside out, so that suddenly you found you could breathe underwater and in your buoyant delight you swam off to some unfathomable submerged elsewhere never to be seen again. After all, we buried an empty box. Where did you go?
It is now wicked winter and I sit alone on the bay. It seems that the elements don’t want me here. They are not in the mood for company and I am an uninvited guest. They make their displeasure known. The waves crash and roar with all the bravado of a gorilla pounding its chest. The sea sends an army of slithering watery tentacles up onto the sodden shore to push me further back. But I am just out of their reach. I look on, indifferent, as these flailing effervescent troops die at my feet and are washed away by the subsequent advancing ranks. The wind is faring better in its attempts to shoo me off. It howls like a banshee and spits puffs of salt and sand in my direction. My eyes begin to sting. I squint and through the hazy fret I see you Saoirse. My darling girl standing way out on the water of the deep as if the surface were as solid as silver. My siren, my sea sprite, my selkie. How I’ve missed you. If you beckon, if you sing your song, I swear I’ll follow you.
photo by Davinia Marie
words by Dean