A stranded seal, trapped
in the swaddling
of her own skin.

Hauled out of her element,
her sleek fat missile
can no longer move

with force and elegance.
She is all eyes: mournful black pools
of paralysed watchfulness.

All pupil: two tears of onyx
set in their orbits
implore me for – something.

To keep a distance, perhaps
(one hundred and fifty feet),
not loom, stare and click. Click.

And walk away with eyes
in the back of my head.
I wanted her to feel accompanied,

or for her to accompany me;
momentarily, we were
the only proof of each other.

Nicola Healey’s poems have been published in The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The London Magazine, The Spectator and Wild Court, among other places. She won the Seren Christmas Poetry Competition 2018 and was commended in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine 2019 and 2017, and the Resurgence Poetry Prize 2015. She is the author of Dorothy Wordsworth and Hartley Coleridge: The Poetics of Relationship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), a revision of her PhD, which she received from the University of St Andrews.