Cora Visits the Seaweed Kingdom – Kate Falvey

In the darkness,
women and children
are wading in the water.

I. Cebu, Visayan Sea

When the imagination fails
to discover a girl, Magdalena,
scanning the tie lines
for clumps of swaying guso,
the harvesting of which will
school her into lifting on more
distant, choppy, speculative seas.

II. Gorumna, Droim Quay, Ceantar na nOileán

Bríd Ní Mháille keened into
the waters in Boston Harbor and her dirge

reached back to Connacht where her brothers
swirled like carageen in the currents,

their currach capsized by a mystery
that’s been guarded this hundred sixty years.

Rammed, they say,
but what was it that rammed?

Peader, Sean, and Briddy’s fair, sweet Michael
rowed from quay to wilder seas to fish.

Martin had drowned before them so perhaps, they say,
‘twas his envious ghost dragged his own kin down.

Some blame a ruthless, bitter sidhe from Tir fo Thuinn,
the land beneath the waves, who felt the pulse and glide

and earthy muscle of the crew and filled their boat with
tugging rage and anguish of ancient heavy hearts sinking.
In the water,
women and children
are wading in the darkness.

III. Cobscook Bay, Moose Island, Maine

The season for harvesting alaria esculenta brings
wistful ecotourists wishing they, too, had dug in

years ago and worked the seabed, surf, and rocky
tidelines, gathering and drying, snipping the tender

bits into a self-sufficiency of miso soup and salad,
mulch, and anti-aging face creams.

And, as she presses her slick boot-heel into the foggy
roughness of the sand and settles on a flattish gabbro

outcrop in the chill of early May to stare longingly
into the pool where sea stars, limpets, whelks, and

winkles, green crab, barnacles, blue muscles, snails
drift and burrow in a small enormity of tidal forest,

she sways, leaning into the algae and sea-greenery,
with a long-ago memory of spines of winged kelp

thick against the green luminosity
of her salt-glazed cheek.

Her wet black hair is lost at sea.

She scries the tidal current in the knee-deep pool
and sees small feet among the grabbling crustaceans,

flimsy and whelming, and sometimes carnivorous.
There is diaphanous blood and crushed spangles of bone

meal for the mollusks,
a transparency of stone.


She is surrounded by water
and mischance
but she wades in.
Fish, plainly speaking.
She was happy then.

Kate Falvey’s work has been published in many journals and anthologies, including four previous issues of Deep Overstock; in a full-length collection, The Language of Little Girls (David Robert Books); and in two chapbooks, What the Sea Washes Up (Dancing Girl Press) and Morning Constitutional in Sunhat and Bolero (Green Fuse Poetic Arts). She co-founded (with Monique Ferrell) and edited the 2 Bridges Review, published through City Tech (City University of New York) where she teaches, and is an associate editor for the Bellevue Literary Review.

Leave a Reply