DEMETER'S TASK
Faith Cotter

When my daughter emerges from the depths of the sea she cries
Momma, Momma
My boat is ready; it needs no wind to sail to her.
When I reach her
she slips through my hands and the water consumes her once more,
blank mind and body blind.

I anchor the boat and wait. Sea shells are scattered at my feet—
other people's lost daughters.
These girls come to me, to draw me close and press their lips against my ear,
a witness to their howls.

From island to shoreline, I wait for my girl
be she a sea sprite
or stitched and shrouded.
When I first felt her move, suspended in that amniotic lake,
she felt like the flick of a goldfish tail, and I remember smiling to myself.
The mirthless souls of drowned girls lured me to the water, once
and I wonder if I have damned my daughter to hidden currents.

Anchor. Wait.
Always, I wait.
Ready to catch her once more
bidding the currents to stagnate
the weather to hold—
trying to find a word to call a mother who has lost her child.






Faith Cotter is a technical writer who grew up on one side of the river and now resides on the other. In a former life she was a journalist who reported for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University, Patch, Jezebel, and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other outlets. Her poem, "The Bone Daughter," was published in ZO Magazine's Precipitation Poetry in 2015.



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