THE WATER BABY
Harlot! Shameless hussy!
Hiss my sisters.
I clutch the baby to my breast.
Monster, deformed creature!
Shrieks my mother.
I gaze at the child in my arms.
Eyes blue as summer sky,
Cockle shell ears.
Lips softly pink, sea-rose petals.
Vile wretch, thankless daughter!
Yells my father.
He boils with rage, he seethes with hate.
Away from here! Away!
You bring dishonour!
I curse you and your brat! Be gone!
Golden curls, pearly skin,
Two arms. And two legs: cause of shame.
An angry splash, salt spray,
They leave my rock pool. So must I.
But first I remember.
My shepherd boy.
The talking, listening, laughing.
And hiding from the storm.
In a dark cave
Sheltering together, sheer bliss.
The thunder and lightning.
Such pain, such joy.
Loving, sleeping. Waking alone.
Just rippling waves, sea breezes.
No golden boy.
No seeing my lover again.
Yet hearing him sometimes,
Tending his flock,
Playing the flute, making music.
My daughter wakes and cries.
She waves her hands, points to the shore.
In the distance, a flute.
Now she is still.
She listens. She hears. And she smiles.