I make myself a skirt of fish skin by Iris Anne Lewis
Mother stitches mackerel eyes
as sequins on my bodice. They wink
dark gold in the sun.
My sisters leave their baskets
brimming full of gutted herring.
They braid my hair with seaweed.
Grandmother binds my thighs together,
strokes my silver scales. Her hands
are rough with barnacles.
Trawler men sing shanties of storm-
tossed ships and foundered boats.
There is salt in their voices.
Women lead me to the water’s edge,
show me how to dance to the surge
and suck of the waves.
They break in a bridal froth
of foam. Spindrift settles
as confetti on my shoulders.
I flip my tail,
rip through the tide,
dive deep in the ocean.
Claim the sea as my own.
Iris Anne Lewis
This poem was first published in Seaborne Magazine, Issue 3