Submission Reject: Return

Image was of a bathtub with a human figure bathing but also a selkie and a seal in the water;  an old woman on the edge of the tub holding a seal; a razor and a rubber ducky on the ledge of the tub; and in the distance the sea, cliffs, and bright lights in the sky.  The image is by Berlin-based Irish artist Dee Mulrooney.  If you click on her name and scroll down you’ll see the image I’m talking about.

It’s January. Hot epsom-salted aquamarine waffles my skin in the white porcelain captivity tank. My captors like me to stay pretty with pedicures, polish, and with thin metal blades that scrape away my fur. A bright yellow conscripted role model, shiny and happy, reminds me of what I’ve allowed myself to become.

I’m a naked mammal in a small white pond. My sun is a low-watt LED.

They arrive in an air-tight pouch that has been planted in colored glass roundels at the bottom of a vase of Mexican hothouse roses. The signature on the card has a small star over the “i” in my name. The full moon is in seven days.

I have convinced them to go to the opera. The servants leave early for their cultural celebrations. Moon rise is early in January. The tea kettle whistles at 5.

Steam fills the room, rising like evening mist from the highlands. I lie back, eyes closed, nostrils wide, and sip the bitter brew. I suppress the rising gorge until bile-green, it sprays into the waiting bucket. I laugh and cough between heaves as my escape pod prepares to embark.

I hear splashing first, then a wheezing cackle. She wants to be the one who leads me back. Cradled in her arms is my firstborn, still a pup. She turns to me, her face a sea of wrinkles, a face I’ve seen a thousand times but is always a surprise. She pulls from her hair my shiny sea coat, hands it to me, then slips over the white wall and into the deep blue. It fits me, warm and tight; I blink my eyes and leap after her.

I rest at the surface, mesmerized by the Northern lights shining on the cliffs. My family calls from below through low hums; my tail dully slaps the slush as I dive.

In the morning, they pound on the fifth-floor bathroom door and yell with their harsh voices until a locksmith is called. What they find is a tub of cold water, a smiling yellow ducky, a bucket with foamy green slime in it, and a wet trail leading to an open window.

[358 words]

Visual Verse is a website that has a monthly Ekphrastic writing challenge.  My entry was not chosen for the month, although 80-some others were chosen, some of them by poets I know from the blog world, including Kerfe Roig, Merril Smith, Kim Russell, K. Hartness, and others I’m sure I missed.  It seems a shame to let the story languish in a folder on my c: drive so here it is.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Carol anne says:

    that was awesome! It should’ve been chosen! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I thought so, but in this case I’m not the choser 🙂 Thank you, Carol anne.


  2. Sadje says:

    It’s such a moving and symbolic story Li. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you, Sadje ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome

        Liked by 1 person

  3. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    You have great imagination to get that from that…yes you should have been picked.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Max, I think I may know why it wasn’t chosen. Another part of the submission guidelines is that they don’t want anything “negative” in it, and I think one way you can construe that end is that she committed suicide. However, as magic infuses this, she simply returned to the sea in her selkie form. Thank you, I like how it turned out also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        Life is negative…
        Maybe it’s me…but something with sunshine and roses comes off as fluff..I could be looking at it wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          You nailed it. Life is a real mix that includes negative as well as the fluff. I plan on trying again with the new picture and see what happens…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. memadtwo says:

    It’s wonderful! Jane’s selkie poem was not chosen either. I can’t always figure out their intentions but it seems the were not really interested in myth for this one. Funny, I never notice the no-negativity part. But they have rejected myth-infused ones of mine before.

    I would not take it too personally. I just read an interview with a “reader” for a lit magazine, and she admitted selection is for the most part pretty arbitrary. And each reader has their own likes and preferences. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Kerfe, thank you! ❤ I know it's arbitrary, but my logical mind thinks 80+ others were chosen (not sure out of how many submissions?) but mine wasn't. I did enjoy reading so many of these poems/narratives. It's a quality output there. I just read/saw/heard something (mind, why do you fail me!?) where the person said don't waste time feeling down if your writing gets rejected, just start on something new. I like that p.o.v. and will keep going.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. memadtwo says:

        Our blogs probably get more real readers than most lit mags.

        Liked by 1 person

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