The Seal Wife
I rested against her in the body of the shipwreck, cushioned by pulpy weed. Brine and oxygen filtered through my body. Breath. She taught me to breathe.
She birthed. Fifteen children over fifteen seasons. The double blade that hung between her legs swelled open like split fruit and presented the strangest, most beautiful children anyone has ever seen. After fifteen children we stopped. The women, the ones who fished that day for cockles, those women stopped coming down to the inlet. They stopped shaking their rattles in the water to call us. When they stopped coming it was as if the birds had ceased their migration. There was no one to give the babies to anymore.
Time moved around us, through us. Sometimes the seasons fell like single breaths. The hunting fires stopped, their single, quiet spires stitched forever into the grey sky. Instead there were periodic infernos that balled up the rolling gases of the gum trees and exploded across the mountains.
Mobs of kangaroos still crept down to the water, disgorging gangling joeys. Droning avian shapes sputtered across the sky. I roam the reaches of the inlet and the surrounding mountains, rising from the water amphibious.
I watched the seal wife enchant the shell-shocked Slav, a silent man shattered by war who built another exile upon the shore. She rose out of the water when the moon was bright, water falling from the tips of her breasts, soothed his demons. She never let him touch her. When he stumbled into the water with his arms outstretched like a child, she slipped away with nary a splash.
Those creatures that make night time fire in the water cling to her body, thread through her hair and illuminate her wake. She is gentle and beautiful and yet bloodthirsty, relentless during the chase. The emotional, clever octopus is never safe when she is hungry. Her teeth are sharp and she is quick.