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For Evie Chapman


She fetches me a mermaid’s purse she has found

among the seaweed where the sand

meets the mound of pebbles the waves have built

and rebuilt over the centuries.

The small black pouch, with tendrils like broken straps

and firm as dried leather, is an empty

egg case, from which a shark or a ray hatched

on the seabed, probably between here

and Ireland. Tides detached and chance brought

this empty womb, wafted by the currents

like a wrecked black sail, or a lost coracle.


Children in bright colours scramble on the mound,

their calls like seabirds lifted on the air.

Mer-people are amongst us, their fishy flanks

invisible. From the future’s gritty depths

she fetches me another gift, a white stone,

large enough to need two carrying hands –

an amalgam of crustaceans calcified,

preserved aeons ago.








© Copyright David Selzer
3 Responses
  • Ashen Venema
    August 1, 2021

    Wonderfully evocative.
    Evie will come to treasure the surprising stories the sea brings us from its depth..

  • Alan Horne
    August 10, 2021

    I thought this was good, David, but I only realised how good when I read it aloud. Pretty flawless.

  • Alan Horne
    August 11, 2021

    Actually, David, I think this requires more of a comment. I’ve always been attracted to the song-like aspect of poetry – to verse, if you like – so I place a high value on reading aloud and, indeed, on reciting from memory. So while not all of my favourites among your poems are especially song-like, many of them are. I have always had a high regard for Dylan Thomas’ verse. He was obviously a silly person who wasted his talents, but the union of meaning and sound in things like In My Craft Or Sullen Art is hard to beat. Reading a poem like The Mermaid’s Purse is like watching Sky Brown skateboarding at the recent Olympics: you keep thinking she’s going to fall, she’s going to fall, and when she doesn’t, that’s what I mean by pretty flawless.

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