Once You Were a Mermaid
Now it is your hand in mine, fingers a clutch of frail feathers.
Not much left but spines. Autumn apples, asters’ powder sweeten
evening’s breeze. The last crickets, those that survive
frost in crevices chant their sleigh bell monotone.
Skies open, a coverlet turned inside-out,
satin, silk, coral, a gray soft as ashes. Then, heavy. Then the rains.
Rains lift you, carry you to the sand, leave you on ocean’s porch.
You, little more than a sodden bird within reach
of wavelets’ chuckle. Private conversations water
holds among all its selves. I hear it in your paintings: waterfalls,
pool, ocean, a glacial lake. Moon slices sky silks,
shivers a path upon the water. I release your fingers.
Your luminous eyes glow in the dark.
” Go on…” I whisper, urging you while water smacks,
its lips, silvers your old, old bones. My palms, clams.
I scrub my eyes, salt-itches, sea-scent confuses me,
your feet, frail fins, your legs to tail. At the moment
when the water and fear have risen high in both
our hearts, you realize, once, so long ago you can’t remember,
you were a mermaid, and I, your water baby.
Water closes over your head. Your gills blossom.
Phosphorescence trails your passage.
Everyone knows you can’t cling to a mermaid,
just for a moment, then you feel her slip into the sea.
Sometimes we look for monsters
in the wrong places or
perhaps the problem is
that we are searching for them at all;
earth rent, we want to peer into scars,
we wonder what new abyss to descend,
and here are ghosts and fangs enough,
so many vents of fury
sulphuring the blackness.
Yet we journey on by fathoms,
compressed, water weighted –
we see dark stars, but what if
we find that there are no real demons
lurking at these depths after all,
no stinging trail of malignancy?
Then we might uncover the brightness
of ourselves and discover
the expanse of other creatures
who light up this permanence of night
with their strange beauty.
The difference between us
She’s looking at me, I’m looking at her. She’s posing for the camera ,see?
You know how the story goes; boy meets girl.
I first saw her, out at the Rocks, tail wrapped round her like a cat, basking in the afternoon sun. She was combing her hair (no doubt to get all the seaweed and sea salt spray out). Not with a normal comb, no; with a cuttlefish bone.
She was singing, a strange sort of sound, as if the Ocean was birthing a new wave or life form. Not a tune I recognised, at any rate.
I knew the risks, had heard all those tales about the siren calls, sailors being lured to their deaths, smashed on the rocks.
But she was on the land and so was I, so I was safe.
I won’t go on about how gorgeous she was, because , well, you can see that from the photo-all nacreous skin, hair that went on for miles.
She wasn’t much of a conversationalist .But she liked her bling, had it all laid out, treating the shore like it was her boudoir or something! So not so much different to the girls I had been out with before, in that way.
But yet, so very, very different…
I was already thinking of where I should take her on a date whilst we made small talk- the new fish restaurant on the Quay, maybe?
She said she couldn’t commit to man or land, said that the difference between us wouldn’t work.
Still, she let me take the photo anyway, and we left it at that.
But I could tell she was curious.
Street Mermaid from Outer Space
Chunks of cheap comet ice
fall from her shroud. Unwinding,
she revives (as in the mythic cycle),
she stands, she melts parts of herself:
dead, living, alien, marine.
Sandy tail, pearl-plastered,
she stirs up red and blue spirals,
The street mermaid from outer space
travels through perception
disembarking from her flying saucer,
hovering on the boardwalk,
becoming the sea.
is written, is said, may be sung,
another day. a smudge is all it takes
once started move on. it may be the wrong
item, it is, just, what it is now, a label.
it rained most of the day ,the roof leaked.
a friend returned that evening.
i will draw the mermaid, with a fish.
The Sea Monsters Lesson.
Welcome to dry land class.
Today we’re learning about similes.
Smiles no chance like.
Sea monsters pictures
Now describe them using the words ‘as’ or ‘like’.
Something you think we’ll know.
Who will drown first?
Section 18 toothed shark.
Mixed metaphor warm-up.
Come up for air.
Some people see monsters.
I see humans
Life lines on rafts.
Salty lipped lies told by others before.
Far from shore
Certain to go under
-Kate Mattacks @mypaperskin
-Paul Brookes (This first appeared in Visual Verse)
She loves him.
though he is water.
Her mam says When I gift you
a fishes tail it will hurt
every time you use it
to and fro like a wave.
It will seem to him
I will give you a tongue.
Every time you sing to him
you will drown a little more.
You will have each other,
but I will lose you.