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coming up for air


Image by Seiji Seiji

i come to the island to hear whales like the first blackbirds of spring, like the aisles of crickets

in the sweltering sun, like purrs between blankets. i want to hem the presence of strange

beasts into the humdrum hum of the world. i want the winter whales, their banshee songs reverberating through rocky, raw isles of billiard-green and seagull-shrieks. i stay silent &

still in my little kayak, the water dripping from the paddle. my escape is complete, the chasm under me a grand canyon.


a humpback comes up for air like an introvert sitting down on a bed of coats. he breaks the membrane of the silken horizon, our lone rendezvous point. did you come up for a sky

holiday, like i did for the sea, i ask. he mists me like a house plant. barrel rolls softly to see,


only to sink back to sea like a knife into a sponge cake. we’ll return to the party, to wives and

goals, deep-dives and mai-tai shoals. stars and star fish. ice clinking and ice melting. harpoon

red, coral grey, rainbow oil, and the glitter of falling fish scales.


the wind whips me and the swells splash me with saltwater cocktails. they say: here’s to the

limits of your lungs, to the home you will not return to. the sirens keep singing: if you fall off

the boat, you want in the water.

Sai Liuko is a writer & teacher from Helsinki, Finland, where she received her MA in English Philology. She writes prose in Finnish, poems in English. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in 3Elements Literary Review, In the Mood Magazine, Exist Otherwise and Soul-Lit. She dreams of a quiet life by the sea.

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