Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Mermaid of September Cove

Shelia worked the tank at the end
of the bar until, after her 38th birthday,
she took up smoking and ran out
of air (the plastic tubes hidden
in the rocks no longer enough)

but for years she could never get enough
of the water, how her hair rippled out
like a dark blank flag when she twisted
around her giant plastic clam, how
her skin stopped feeling like skin by
the second hour, became an empty
skein of silk

she learned, better than all the other girls,
how to cross her feet inside the glistening
sequined tail and pump with her thighs
like she was standing on bike pedals,
so she shot across the sandy bottom,
stirring the indigo pebbles and dyed green
shells, making them flip and shimmer
in the heavy water

for the five dollars tucked in their fathers’
back pockets, little boys could slip
under the railing, get close to the glass

if they stood very still, lips not even moving,
Sheila would give them what they wanted,
would come up to the transparent wall,
extend her bluish hand until she was palm
to palm with the stunned boy

it was something, she knew, he would remember
the first time a girl agreed to be naked
in front of him, something so astonishing and
weird, he’d forget to breathe,

forget, even, to open his eyes

Too wordy? Enquiring Minds Want to Know.


Radish King said...

Oh this is enchanting. Corny word, but that's how it made me feel.

Christine said...

Thanks! I haven't written something like this for a while -- it has such a clear narrative.

Mr.Topo said...

Love the blog...I'm linking yurs to mines