Find and replace

a confession

It was the second test and the seal won

increasingly over the past year or so perhaps longer
my life has become what I can only describe as
a parade of anthropomorphic seals

now I’ve always liked seals although I don’t think they’d
make it into my top five favourite animals you can’t not
have a soft spot for a seal if you go to Norfolk you can
go on a boat ride and see them lolling on the beach at
Blakeney Point

seals look more comfortable than I do when I’m trying to sleep
they can lie comfortably on their backs on their fronts and
on their sides and although until recently I didn’t think you
could tell the mood of an animal by the expression on its face
which is why everyone thinks dolphins are happy all the time
and that tuna don’t have a discernible emotion within them
which is not the case but that is a story for another day

but these seals on the beach at Blakeney Point look happy and
who am I to begrudge a seal happiness even if it is just the
fact that their faces look like they are having a good time if you
have ever given a seal some bad news you will know that the face
does not alter in any notable manner

yet in the past months the seals have worked their way into everything
I do at first it was just calypso songs and The Second Test and The Seal
Won but now there are intricate sketches in my notebook about how
a seal could possibly play cricket and win a match at lords it is notable
that it is a single seal that won which is unusual in cricket and offers
no indication that the victorious team was either comprised entirely of
seals or even had any other members except for the seal although there
is a cricketer called Weddell which I can only assume refers to the weddell
seal which is the most northern of all the seals

and when sitting down to watch some of my favourite items of
american TV there are now seals in it, for the entire season of true
detective I was convinced that the murderer would be the man with the
face of a seal who appeared in several scenes and whom I am now informed
does not appear to have a seal face to most other viewers of this show
let alone the logical issues as to how a man would have a seal face and
where the seal face ends and the human begins

and in fact now when I speak to my wife she often has to ask if I
am talking to her or to the seal and the worst thing is that I often have to
check and re-run conversations back through my head because I am certain
some of them actually were with the seal

and then I read on the internet the story of someone who has found a seal egg
on a beach and they have taken the seal egg home to incubate it and hatch
a baby seal and this makes me rethink what seals are because I had not
imagined before that they could possibly hatch out of eggs and I look on
twitter and I have a message from someone who is standing for election in
Hove which is not even a constituency I live in and they tell me they are very
fond of seals and I wonder how they know and if I have messaged them at some point

but when I search for seals on the internet half of the results are about the
musician called Seal from the 90s who released Kiss from a rose which can
cause confusion with headlines about how he attacked a scientist in the
arctic or performed an indecent act involving a penguin

and I am just trying to write poetry that is interesting and satirical and that
has a story somewhere in it and I think that perhaps the seal is a metaphor
that has somehow taken on a life of its own and explains how difficult it is
to live in a world that is so interconnected but if this is the case why are they
sending me messages and finding their way into every aspect of my life

and suddenly I find both seals and the modern world are very confusing things
and perhaps I should go to Blakeney Point myself and lie down, on my back on
my front on my side and feel the warmth of the sun and there will be a look
on my face that the seals, not knowing that you cannot tell the mood of someone
from their expression, would consider to be happy.


I don’t think this really needs too much explanation. Sometimes you spend months trying to write poetry and none of it seems to work and actually it turns out to be because you really want to be writing about anthropomorphic seals. Perhaps. Quite a lot of this poem is 100% true.

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