A Promise from the Sea

by Sonya Taaffe

If a mask were to choose her, it would be a mask of the sea; goddess, pirate, mermaid, corpse, it would shift as she dreamed.
—J.C. Runolfson

The starfish she combed from her hair, the anemones
she shook out from kelp and sargasso weed as pearls
drifted down like tears, settled among crusts of bronze
and smutched silver, silt-greened indissoluble gold—
salt-welded remains that glittered once beneath
a coffin-lid across the tropics of goat-fish and crab,
sapphires smoothed to cat’s-eyes, opals that immersion
preserves, immortal in their drowning where long ago
the bones splintered into sand. A parrotfish nosed
unknowing through a graveyard, a lovers’ cascade
sung down and strewn where neither light nor leaves
fall: in the wasteland depths, the last face accretes
like coral, fragile, obdurate, etching up from the dark
her hands as she gathers in the blue and black waters,
the green flash of sunset, the heartsblood tides.

Sonya Taaffe Sonya Taaffe has a confirmed addiction to myth, folklore, and dead languages. Poems and short stories of hers have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Locus Award, shortlisted for the SLF Fountain Award, honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, and reprinted in The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, The Best of Not One of Us, Fantasy: The Best of the Year 2006, and Best New Romantic Fantasy 2. A respectable amount of her work can be found in Postcards from the Province of Hyphens and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books). She holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale.

She says, "currently reading? For the first time, Peter Gould’s Write Naked, Paul Muldoon’s Horse Latitudes, and Edward Rowe Snow’s Storms and Shipwrecks of New England; re-reading, Patricia McKillip’s Riddle-Master, Mary Gentle’s Ash: A Secret History, and Pamela F. Service’s Winter of Magic’s Return and Tomorrow’s Magic."

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