The Sea Calls My Name

‘Night swim in the sea baths’

After James Drinkwater, oil on canvas, 2018, Newcastle Regional Gallery.


the smell of salt
takes me back

I stand on the sea wall
trust the skin of the water
to part when I dive

I float
through my dreams
patterns and shards of light
swim through blue patches
reflected memory of day-sky

I am starfish, mermaid
angel fish, under
moon’s silver triangles
I climb ladders of light

and when I find
a sea urchin sheared
of its punk hairdo

to a grey stippled shell

I remember
its line of defence
its crisscross of spears

the carapace it wore to survive

washed out by the tides
from mouth to anus
a gift from the sea

its dead self
tattooed with memory

as the past calls me
back to where I began

Gail Hennessy


Gail Hennessy has been published widely in newspapers, journals and anthologies and won local and national competitions. She has published three books of poetry, Witnessing (self published 2010), Written on Water (Flying Island Books 2018) and The M Word (Girls on Key 2019).

© 2019