[Read the original here]
COUNSELOR: Poetry Crisis Line, what is your emergency?
CALLER: Although it is night, I sit in the bathroom,
COUNSELOR: Do you often wake up to go to the–
COUNSELOR: Oh. Have you tried drinking a glass of water?
CALLER: Sweat prickles behind my knees,
COUNSELOR: So you’re not dehydrated.
CALLER: the baby-breasts are alert.
COUNSELOR: So, um, is it harder for you to, uh, go when you’re, um…
CALLER: Venetian blinds slice up the moon;
COUNSELOR: I wouldn’t advise eating cheese in the bathroom. Wash your hands first, and go to the dining r—
CALLER: the tiles quiver in pale strips.
COUNSELOR: On second thought, maybe you should stay seated, right where you are.
CALLER: Then they come,
CALLER: the three seal men
COUNSELOR: Notaries? Did you ask for their seal on something, or did they just show up?
CALLER: with eyes as round / As dinner plates
COUNSELOR: Wait, you mean, like Navy SEALs? With night-vision goggles?
COUNSELOR: Are they armed?
CALLER: eyelashes like sharpened tines.
COUNSELOR: So… yes? But… um… that sounds really impractical.
CALLER: They bring the scent of licorice.
COUNSELOR: Uh…don’t get in the van?
CALLER: One sits in the washbowl,
COUNSELOR: Wait—when you said seal men, did you mean—
CALLER: One on the bathtub edge;
COUNSELOR: You did! You’re talking about actual selkies, aren’t you?
CALLER: one leans against the door.
COUNSELOR: I didn’t realize they showed up in groups.
CALLER: “Can you feel it yet?” they whisper.
COUNSELOR: Feel what?
CALLER: I don’t know what to say,
COUNSELOR: Honestly, neither do I.
COUNSELOR: So… this has happened to you before?
CALLER: They chuckle,
COUNSELOR: That’s not surprising. Strange emotional responses are something selkies are known for. Laughing at funerals, crying at weddings—
CALLER: Patting their sleek bodies with their hands.
COUNSELOR: That, not so much. Did they misplace their car keys? I thought they were supposed to come in from the sea.
COUNSELOR: From the well? I thought they preferred salt water.
CALLER: maybe next time.”
COUNSELOR: I have heard of seals swimming up a—
CALLER: And they rise,
COUNSELOR: Not up, just up a river.
CALLER: Glittering like pools of ink under moonlight,
COUNSELOR: Could be. I’d imagined it in the daytime, but I don’t know what time a seal would swim upriver and—
CALLER: And vanish.
COUNSELOR: You mean literally? Or just under the surface?
CALLER: I clutch at the ragged holes / They leave behind,
COUNSELOR: In your bathroom?
CALLER: at the edge of darkness.
COUNSELOR: Right. Um. Literal or metaphorical darkness?
CALLER: Night rests
COUNSELOR: So the night is resting, but you’re wide awake. How does that make you feel?
CALLER: like a ball of fur on my tongue.
COUNSELOR: So…kind of catty, then?