elegy: mother, ocean, tear

the first women
emerged from oceans
carrying within
fistfuls of it, hidden

to anoint husbands,
baptize children, months-long
to pass a sacred drop into each daughter

what is a tear
except whispered
memory, brine, carried from

do the fishes weep? do they
fill depths for
us, mourning lost cousins?
Do deep ones,
freakish luminous things,
nameless jellies, floating
shadow-tentacled monsters? Through the glass
you shudder, snapping pictures;
wonder, does it remember

families have limits, boundaries,
barriers, photos that will never
be kept in albums, names
not made for genealogies

you will never learn to

Gord Sellar, 1997

This poem is one of the first semi-decent ones I wrote back in my undergraduate days . It was “published” in a chapbook that my class put together. I quite like the connections between tears and salty ocean water and the womb; I feel like saying something about the profoundly modern experience of disassociation from nature (seen through glass) and how that is somehow mashed together with our experience of having our human distinctness from nature torn from us by the discovery of, and deepening of our understanding of, evolution. But I think I’ll just shut up and let the poem say it instead.

April 20, 1997

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