The Sealfather: An Elegy / Kirsty Logan


I see you close to the shore, scalp sleek as a seal, fingers meshed to fins. I lean towards you and my feet sink into the wet sand, leaving pale imprints. They remind me that I'm still here.

You slip deeper into the water, waves stroking your sides, parting for you as for a boat. Duck for the boom!, you used to call, and my childish tousle of hair would just be clipped as it passed. That's how it felt, anyway; I'm sure you actually kept me safely down in the boat's sunken belly, far from danger. Five-year-olds are short; shorter than a boom, probably.

Now you don't need masts and winches, or fibreglass hulls, or the flutter-thwack of sails catching the breeze. It's just you and the sea, endlessly. And best of all, no me: no small person to protect, no dreamy stubborn scrap too intent on the distant hills to duck when the wind changes.

My feet sink further into the sand, each wave a message from you to me. The grit between my toes reminds me that I'm still here. For now.

I watch you go, out past the islands. I answer your waves with my silence, my absence. I walk up the hill alone, the grass scratching life back into my numb feet, but every step feels good because now I know.

You haven't gone away. You've just gone back.

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