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  • Writer's pictureRosie Forster


Cling clang

Come out with your hands up

Come out with your hands

Drawing shapes in the thick veil

Between ocean and person

Come, come

Cling to the swaying of maybe

Maybe our hands are more wet

Than the film of skin across our eyes

When used as binding.


Boats can bob as gently as they will

And yet be struck through, striking from inside

And I will never understand, but still

To see the burning bodies on the tide

Another tie, another sail to shore,

A choppy wave can mow each soldier down

Each wave is coming, bigger than before,

Containing little lives, patched on their gowns.

And even if I wanted to, could I

Be made to weather weather on the sea?

Soaking me through so I’ll never be dry

And staining me with violent history.

There’s battle over what this nation means

But nations are all prettier in dreams


If there was ever a way to determine which of the people in my life were the most important, it would be the starfish I met after my mother died.

My mother was not particularly beautiful, as my eyes constantly reminded me. Nor was she particularly kind. She used to tell me, “a mother who does not beat her children is like a starfish with no limbs. Ugly and useless.” A phrase I found, to put it simply, stupid. My mother must be the last woman on earth not to know that starfish regenerate.

She died because she drowned. She walked out of our house one morning and walked the ten minutes to the beach. According to onlookers, she sat there for a while, before getting up and clambering to the rock pools. I wonder what she thought about. We had argued the day before, because I told her I was going to leave her, in our little house, and travel for a job working in construction. It has always been my dream to be strong. She has always been stronger than me. I’ve heard that mothers sometimes develop superhuman strength when their children are in danger. I wonder if they also develop that strength when they want to put their children in danger.

The rock pools were delicate and harsh, angry crags of black rock filled with warm, still water. I’ve always thought that the ocean sparkles, whereas the rock pools glow. Apparently, she tripped on a rock and hit her head. It wasn’t the blow that killed her though. She landed face down in one of the deeper pools and drowned.

Maybe that was more peaceful. Maybe it was painless and smooth, and she dreamed of making her peace with God. It couldn’t be a violent action, because the violence doomed her before her face met the water.

I walked up to the rock pools the day after my mother died, scouring the rock for telltale smears of blood. That’s when I found the little starfish, flung against the side of the rock, jutting out from a shallow pool. It was missing two of its limbs.

Starfish don’t have blood. They run on seawater, allowing it to course through them and nourish their bodies. They have no brain, which was probably what I would argue makes them more “useless” than losing limbs they can easily regrow.

“I bet you don’t have anything interesting to say,” I said to it. It didn’t respond.

I picked the starfish from the rock, and threw it as far as I could. It disappeared behind one of the rocks. I imagined it smashing open and a bucket of seawater pouring out, but I didn’t stay to look.


I don’t know if I’ll make it

I don’t know what I’m supposed to do

They all told me love is so easy

And yet

They must not have known about you.

A shadow made of sea

And an ocean full of smoke

And I’m terrified that in a week

I’ll forget

How easily we broke.

I’m exhausted

And I’m sore

From carrying you in my mind

For years and years.

You made me feel like

I was stronger than I was.

I’ve been hit across the face

We met

And I woke up alive.

The stupid way we don’t make sense

You drag me like a stone

And I’m drowned under the weight of you

The asinine love of water pressure.

I think everything

From the sharks down to the particles of matter

Have realized a simple truth:

It’s harder for us to hide in water

But easier for them.

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