Selkie

“Selkie”, “Dad,” and “The Lives of Others”

by Ally Chua

Selkie

They say that he hid my skin, but what they

do not know is that I threw it into the sea

at high tide, such that it will not drift back

even if I change my mind. I was always the

stubborn one, they said. I must learn to bend,

keep my whiskers wet and my tail below water.

Still I remain unrelenting, thankful that on land,

the air does not shift when I kick.

On winter nights I sleep with his warmth, not

anchored to kelp forests. I take in his catches;

try not to gobble the raw fish. I sing him and

our baby to slumber, quietly, so that they will not

sleep forever.

Yet sometimes I tie my legs with kelp, dive

deep into darkness until my lungs burn. I smell

the rot of dead things in wrecks. I feel tentacles

brushing my feet. I'm unable to be afraid of blue.

I cannot leave the water behind.

Dad,

I’m the same age you were when

you left for milk and never came home.

They saw your spaceship leaving

town, fender still dented from the

meteoroid crater. For years I drove

slow past every convenience store.

Failed math and science so you

could correct my arithmetic - that

if you could leave me for Venus

you must not love me enough to stay

home. Lil brother still writes you. I hold

enough rage for both of us. I dare not

orbit our black hole of a home. Instead

I stay with a boy made of red earth, fucks

him knowing one day he too will leave

our child behind. There are infinite

universes, so there is one where you

never left and there's one when you've

blinked out of time. I'm in the universe

with the expired milk and I am still

waiting for you to return.

The Lives of Others

They build apartments too close

to each other. I see cracks in

every wall. Two months after

she left, you still sleep curled up

on one side. Her clothes still hang

from your balcony. The dog waits

at the door every evening, and

you leave the light on if you sleep

early. There are days you forget

and make coffee for two. You are

running out of milk, and your plants

are dying. I see you looking at

my window; I wonder what you can

read about me.

About the Author

Ally Chua

Ally Chua works in the communications industry in Singapore. She has been published in the anthologies for SingPoWriMo 2017 and 2018, as well as Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. She finds inspiration from a variety of sources, including Richard Siken, Leonard Cohen, and zombie video games.