Seanín Hughes, Poem for the Sick Fisherman

Poem For The Sick Fisherman

The moment comes when I stare down
into the dirty dishwater and wonder at the ways
he chose to unmake me –
not like still-warm bedsheets tousled by tangled bodies;
not like a journey into someone else.
More like reeling in a fishing line having hooked an open mouth,
and salivating at the thought of gutting the fish, taking care
to gouge out the eyes first. It comes
when he stumbles through the door, reminds me
that I’m a “mad bitch”, then seeps his venom
across the palms and cheeks of my children;
when he leers close enough to the knives
for my legs to almost fold.

Secretly, I protest in fours.
I conjure a reckoning from fire,
a halo of candles casting rings of light
to swallow whole the dark.
A circle of salt and soil,
fresh cut flowers and spit
as the heat rises from my tongue in chant:
“thy will be done, thy will be done.”
The moment comes nightly, when I fantasise
about tragic accidents, fancy myself
an innocent thing
who doesn’t wish him dead.

Seanín Hughes was first published on Poethead in July 2017 and featured on the inaugural Poetry Jukebox in October 2017. Her work has been published both online and in print, including in Banshee, The Stinging Fly, and Abridged. Seanín was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2018, and is studying English Literature at University of Ulster. Her debut chapbook, Little Deaths, is due to be published this month by Smithereens Press.

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