Kelpie by Rebecca Gethin


Out of the rain a colt appeared on the shore –
he’d trotted through the bog on cupped hooves
that let him skim across suck and squelch.

In the sea’s dusk his eyes shone and the skin
inside his nostrils flared shell-pink –
he sniffed the air around me, stepped closer

and as he breathed out I smelled the seascape
from his lungs. Sensitive as raw mussel
he whiffled my hand. I stretched up

to stroke his neck and my fingers felt salt grains
in the fur. Wheeling above, gulls crackled
like bladder wrack. He turned towards

the water’s edge and seemed to beckon,
shaking out his weed-locked mane.
Waves ran over the herring flash of his hooves.

He bent down to snuffle his mouth in the water
and when he shook the drops from his lips
I knew his time had come.


(shortlisted in the Chagword Poetry Competition)

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor. Cinnamon Press published her second poetry collection, A Handful of Water, in 2013. Her first novel, Liar Dice, won the Cinnamon Press Novel Award, and her second, What the horses heard, was published in 2014. New poems have appeared in Prole, The Interpreter’s House and Lighthouse as well as Her Wings of Glass, the Exeter Poetry Festival anthology, the Battered Moons Competition pamphlet and The Broadsheet.  Her website is

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