A work in progress

I am a mermaid.
You wouldn’t know because I keep my tail hidden under my skirt.
I’ve learned to mask my fishy smell,
cut my hair a little shorter,
try not to comb it sitting on the bonnet of my car,
keep my shell collection to a bare minimum
pretend I covet shoes instead,
wear a bra to cover up my breasts,
they can be so distracting.
And I’ve learned to hum softly under my breath,
to keep my songs to myself.
My voice,
the things I say,
can give me away as something…
Yes, they can draw a man to me,
but when he really sees me,
he gets scared and wants to run away.

I must be a mermaid
my obsession with the ocean
feels like more than a desire to breathe in the air
and besides,
every step I take
feels like a blade cutting in.

I thought everybody felt like this?
So I kept going.
You can’t say I haven’t tried to live a life
the ordinary way.

See, the pattern on the rug looks like a dog’s face
it reminds me how we made out faces in the wallpaper
and animals in clouds,
but everybody does that, don’t they?

I watched him,
sweeping leaves into piles
and along with them, his dreams,
and the stories of when he was young.
His bones crack now, like sticks on the bonfire,
and a trail of smoke rises above stark trees,
as striking as his thoughts used to be.
Unspoken words hang in the air
like breath from lips
that remember how to kiss
but don’t want to anymore

He was born from the land,
brow furrowed like the fields,
voice like the call of crows,
his breath drawing minerals from the hillside,
to course through his blood.

And me? I was born from the sea,
my skin cold to the touch
my voice lost on the wind
my breath drawing salt from the ocean
to flavour my tears.

So, I am leaving land behind
and going back to where I came from.

I didn’t realise that once I’d put my head under water,
I would be compelled to dive,
to swim on the surface is not adventure.
I didn’t realise that water would distort my perception of distance,
and magnify size.

I am diving.

Above me the sun makes a valiant attempt to follow,
dancing hot-foot on the waves,
but where I’m going it can’t come
the spectrum cannot be
there will be no colour.

At 50 feet, red is invisible.
signature lipstick, along with black rimmed eyes and 3 coats of mascara,
my sharp-cut-hair,
fear of the dark,

I am diving.

At 200 feet orange is gone.
kicking through leaves
the rug on the end of the bed,
warmth of arms
October mornings.

I am diving.

At 300 feet yellow green is almost gone.
sunlight through trees,
the lightness of thought,
softness of voices,
the healing of bruises,
driving the old Renault
The objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear
and water distorts my perception of distance.

I am diving.

At 400 feet violet has completely eclipsed blue,
peeling paint,
the sky at midday,
pleading eyes,
ripped shirt,
my song.

I am diving.

At 500 feet, every colour gone but violet.
Morning mist and evening shadows,
broken promises,
wilted flowers,
old wounds,
cried out eyes,
comfort in darkness.

I am diving

At 800 feet
no colour.


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