The Selkie Wife

You hide it under the cherry tree roots, where the charred arteries rise and cage the trunk. The white fat spills through your fingers like a jellyfish. You wonder how she wore it. Perhaps tied around her soft neck. It reminds you of your father’s storm slicker, leathered and bruised with salt and the silver clasp at his throat. One night she asks you to pierce the webs of her fingers and thread those eight spaces with pearls dipped in gold. You find two rusted fish hooks and a copper coin. You keep looking. You watch the coast often. The waves carry broken things to the shore. Oars and metal rims of boats and algae-dyed rope. Sometimes you see boots nested in the sand. Men’s size thirteen. Smoke rising from them. She cries often. You once catch her running down the grass hills to the beach, her feet white crescents in the sand. You hold her to you tightly as she sends cold sobs into your shirt. You question the cherry tree. You question what lies buried beneath the dirt. But you must keep her here with you. You must keep her safe. You must.