Somewhere Else Writers (SEW) Sep 22: Iris Anne Lewis

Iris Anne Lewis

Iris said: ‘the title phrase ‘I make myself a skirt of fish skin’ popped into my mind and the rest of the poem flowed from that. Since childhood I have been fascinated by fairy tales and legends and so it was natural for the poem to evolve into a tale of a mermaid, a chimaeric figure found in folklore about the sea. Many cultures have traditionally held rites of passage from childhood into maturity. In the poem, a girl is encouraged by family and the wider community to embrace the transition from adolescence into womanhood.’

Originally form Wales Iris’s work is infused with a sense of place, history, myth and folklaw. She has been widely published in a variety of on-line, print and broadcast media and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net Award. She has also been the featured poet in the Silver Branch Series on Black Bough Poetry. In 2018 she founded Wordbrew, a Cirencester-based group of poets. I make myself a skirt of fish skin was first published in the July 22 edition of Seaborne Magazine.

To read the poem go to cirenscene.com

For more work by local writers go to somewhere-else-writers.org

I make myself a skirt of fish skin

Mother stitches mackerel eyes
as sequins on my bodice. They wink
dark gold in the sun.

My sisters leave their baskets
brimming full of gutted herring.
They braid my hair with seaweed.

Grandmother binds my thighs together,
strokes my silver scales. Her hands
are rough with barnacles.

Trawler men sing shanties of storm-
tossed ships and foundered boats.
There is salt in their voices.

Women lead me to the water’s edge,
show me how to dance to the surge
and suck of the waves.

They break in a bridal froth
of foam. Spindrift settles
as confetti on my shoulders.

I flip my tail,
rip through the tide,
dive deep in the ocean.

Claim the sea as my own.

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