Twenty-two moons

Eloisa Griffiths

Photograph by Conrad Zieblan

People often think that we shared a womb

But twenty-two turns of our mother moon

Drove uncharted tides of time between us.

We are lonely mermaids

A colony of two

Ocean-girt nereids

Stretched out over twin rocks

That drift and skim, and barely hold us up

Unanchored, untethered

Seaweed tangled up in hair

Salt crusted on our skin

Yours snowy and mine nutty brown

Salt clinging to our eyelashes

Long limbs tracing submarine breezes,

The water is cool and the waves swell and heave and sigh

But we are too far out for them to break.

The sun shatters on the surface

A scattering of diamond shards

The dogs bark on the shore

I remember playing lifeguards when we were little.

We float on the sea’s breath

Crest rolling hills of blue

And plunge down into the soft silky valleys left in their wake,

We always chose this over catching riptides

Which only bring you back to sand

In a splutter of gritty surf

Beached, grains ground into every nook

That days later fall in cascades from the creases of clothes 

A Sahara hiding up a t-shirt sleeve.

I feel closer to you in the arms of the sea

Here I teach you how to grow sea-legs

And we bask in cerulean siren-song

Which croons to the tidal pulse of our veins.

I dream of us chambered together, asleep in our mother’s waters

You are yang’s pale crescent curled into my new-moon yin

A pair of koi fish circling each other

Girls drawn in Pisces.

But the crab watched over your birth

While I have been governed by the maiden

Since before you were dreamt of;

Rubies are your gems, sapphires mine.

Younger reflection of myself

Not a mirror, but a pool

Changed by the cross-hatchings of ripples above

And stirring slumberous things below.

I look out to the place where the sky is soldered to the sea

Blue heavens meld into watery deeps

Worlds enmesh,

And I wonder if we could sail up into the air

Like old stories, from time and childhood.

And now night’s shimmering curtain descends

High tides of inky black submerge the day

The sea’s salt has crystallised on the sky 

From our ocean dwelling I see us cast above

In seashell stars which tear holes in the dark shore beyond;

Flower crowns of white fire

Encircling our almost-twinned brows

Woven through dusky sheets of hair,

Bathed in the light of night’s lamps

We are become holy and celestial

Etched upon a starscape

Residents of a lofty silver city

A pair of moon-spun sisters

A new constellation.

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol