Prospero Sees the Sea

Judith Skillman Click to

pub shotJudith Skillman’s recent book is House of Burnt Offerings, available from Pleasure Boat Studio.  She is the recipient of an Eric Mathieu King Fund award from the Academy of American Poets for her book Storm (blue Begonia Press).  Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, J Journal, FIELD, The Southern Review, The Iowa Review, Midwest Quarterly and Prairie Schooner.  Visit www.judith

These resinous fields stretch away
from my prison, rosined by wind
and tendrils of my daughter’s hair,
as she grows more beautiful.

Nacre—that shine upon the mollusk
when it’s washed ashore
to die at my feet, another sign
come to teach the slave his place.

If I come here to drink, my throat closes
and gags. Come to bathe,
my skin reddens, blistered by the sun
that shows me to be what I fear most—

a man along in years,
a father who kept a girl safe
by magic. Until that day
when I can burn my books—until the end

of this play the gods would have with me
I’ll stand and stare and feel the hours.
Scoundrel, villain who wrote formulae to keep
the child of a child in her rightful place,

I see the waves like conches turn,
and hear what others listen for when they,
free to travel the globe, take from its wooden shelf
the sea, and put it to their ear.