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Original artwork by Cayman Chen

Sea Mother

Edith Friedman

At the bottom of the ocean roils a carpet of old clothes

and Sedna, ill-tempered, with her hair in tangles.

Above the waves, patriarchal jets poison the sky

with upscale contrails, figure eights.

This time when some man deemed wise

calls to comb her hair, she’ll refuse

gin up the desperate waves and revel in the crash.

Like all leaders, his promises are full of trash.

Braided bribes. Lies. Lies.


A word was in the wastebasket this morning.

It might as well have been her name.

What father hacks his daughter’s clinging fingers

ships oars, rows and doesn’t look back?

Her metacarpals swirled around her.

On land, Sedna sulks in soapstone

goddess status being small consolation.

Her sea children, better prize, mid-size

when they sun themselves on ancient rock

she smells the dripping fuzz of their hard heads.

Distraction from the questions

that make her pull planeloads of fathers down

and bite her own sad elbows.