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.
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.