She swore she’d learn from her mother’s mistakes.
No knobby-kneed dry dude would pluck her skin
from the rocks like a beachcomber lifting an oyster shell
and string up the years of her life like pearls.
If a man couldn’t slip under waves and slide down
to where anemones danced,
she wouldn’t give him a second glance.
No sea shanty or sweet air could ever tempt this freestyle
gliding girl to wax absorbent.
But I couldn’t slough off his need, sang her mother.
His longing tasted like salt.
His jealousy tasted like krill.
The daughter was no such sucker.
She’d lap in saltwater and seal her outer layer
before some land lubber tried to stow it in a trunk.