Gingerbread House Lit Mag

The Sailors Confine My Mother, A Siren, to the Bath

They said she’d miss the ocean—
how it held her so aloft she could feel
the flap of bird wings, the rush of air
along her cheeks. Each crash only an interlude
between highs. They confined her to a claw
foot tub made of iron and glaze. Chipped
at the bottom, her skin rubbing away
gleaming white to rust. Fractures grew,
lines bisecting, dissecting one another and her
front facing the tub’s slope, feet aloft and hair
tousled with salt. I watched from the doorway,
stood on tip toes to see the sea
run out of her. She crooned, warbled, drew
honeysweet words from her mouth into scummy water.

They said she’d learn to love the still—
the reliability of asphalt, lit streetlamps,
cereal boxes and peaches in cling syrup
—forget the way salted hair carries volume,
how voices fall over wave crests into foamy
wakes, what it feels like to be so high
birds look up at your underbelly.
They said she’d learn to carry me
between her tender underarm and firm
hip bone, fill up with the weight of me instead.

We learned to walk that way—me resting upon her
right hip, her pressing a conch shell to her left ear.

Hannah Newman

Hannah Newman is a founding Editor-in-Chief of Sweet Tree Review and holds an MFA from Western Washington University. She is currently working on a collection of short stories about women, ghosts, and joy. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading obscure fairy tales and drinking too many cups of coffee. Her work can be found in or is forthcoming from Entropy, Stirring, Hobart, Yemassee Journal, and elsewhere.

Artwork: Brooke Shaden




This entry was published on April 30, 2021 at 12:10 am and is filed under 46 (April 2021), Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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