Swallowed by the sea


The heat of February bringing fatigue and slowness, 

lethargy almost pleasant to bring me to rest. 

I am heavy with pregnancy and longing to be held in the sea, 

the best place to be, 

to be weightless and immune to the icy cold. 


Now I step into the ocean and it is icy warm, 

sweet reprieve from the weight that a baby brings. 

I stop and listen to what the ocean is telling me. 


There is a gentle welcome but 

a slight distant warning, a caution to step slow. 

And slowly I see blue bottles 

everywhere, everywhere. 



I step back and walk out along the beach 

and I see fish stranded, entangled in blue tentacles, 

shocked and washed up, 

seemingly pregnant but in their faces and sites of shock. 


There is so much death, all the way up to the dunes. 

All along the shoreline as far as I could see. 

An unfortunate meeting of fish and bluebottles. 

So many fish bloated and pregnant by sting. 


I put on my shoes and hear 

that familiar pop of the blue bottle I did not mean to step on. 


I am thinking of all the death 

I have noticed washed up on the shores of the ocean 

I have walked along over the years. 

Porcupine and shark, penguin and whale, 

so many birds, so many seals. 

And I know of people, 

and I think of the tragic closure it brings to finally have the body returned to land. 


This ocean as grave site, 

so many who have been sentenced to leave this dunya and be swallowed by sea. 


I say my prayers for all this tragedy 

and again 

I turn to a future quiet murmur of this baby I carry. 


I think of all those who have come before me 

who have arrived at this same site, 

across the quiet dunes to the loud sea. 


Every mongoose or person 

or caracal or mole or leopard 

or lion or hippopotamus 

or crocodile or rhinoceros 

or eagle or cobra, 

and I think about how many of them may have been heavy with pregnancy 

and longing to be held and released in the sea.


By Zayaan Khan