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As they sung your brothers into the sea,

So did you sing them to the shore:

Their tales dulled by moonless night

Gills dry and clenched, seal-eyes afraid;

You might have ended the whole thing there

Instead you walked into the sea.

Full fathom five their dead bones lie;

The stars fade out at two or three

The air at four, blood ocean-chilled

(you breathed from a bag;

you sang as you choked).

Full fathom five your brothers dance

on seaweed-strings for clapping hands

that stir the water, flood the fields

wash the hens into the deep

to lay tourmalines and tinted glass

into the slippery hands of fish.

Full fathom five you sing the change

into something rich and strange

with fins to walk; tree-hands to grasp;

red claws to clutch and gills to gasp

splayed on the beach, alight with the sun,

shell-brides in arms, oath-chains undone

and you singing your gasping shore-song:

blue-breathed and strange

singing them back.

Leah Bobet’s latest novel, An Inheritance of Ashes, won the Sunburst, Copper Cylinder, and Prix Aurora Awards and was an OLA Best Bets book; her short fiction is anthologized worldwide. She lives in Toronto, where she builds civic engagement spaces and makes quantities of jam. Visit her at
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