The saline scent of home by Stephanie Conn

They said it was here. Buried before my birth.

I had no reason to doubt them. Besides, I loved belief.

That, and myth. I could almost see it through their lens,

their open window, doorway frames, their rusted locks


but this door never did lead to the beach, not once,

and the marram grass I feel scratch at my soles

never did take root. I am both fish and toad, and neither,

turquoise and aquamarine, gills flapping, mouth closed.


I must hold my breath long enough to descend

to that air-pocket place of half-dream, and blink twice,

must look myself in the eye for the second time,

note the tint of iris, grown strange, the pupil’s pulse.


My eyes are clear, like the sea, and blue is an illusion.

The mirror’s frame is tarnished gold, layers of nacre

glint in curved drops, distort distance. The folds

of my dress gather at my feet as liquid charcoal.


I hear an underwater echo of wood on water,

the flat slap of paddle and the time rushing in,

knowing I have not captured the moment on film,

knowing there is no time lapse of woman becoming shell.


Stephanie Conn’s first collection, ‘The Woman on the Other Side’ is published by Doire Press and was shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Award for best first collection. Her pamphlet ‘Copeland’s Daughter’ won the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and is published by Smith/Doorstep. Her new collection is due out in May 2018.

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