Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Mermaid (rewrite)

Nobody remembers how all seven seas belonged to you,
how both fish and flesh knew your shape.
We have forgotten the true names for the tides,
paving them over
out of the childish need to conquer and ruin
that has marked Mankind for the lost animal
it crawled out of the seas to become.

The moon tribes knew the water songs,
but there aren't enough voices fluid enough
to sing them now. When the shimmering skin
of your waters was cut by the first sailing boats
no one could wonder why you fled that open wound.
Sounding deep for a place to rest you reasoned
"Water-skimmers want to play" you said.
"What real harm could they do?" you said.

But it was a serious game mankind came to play
and they played to win. When the rainbow
of their poisons spread out over the waves,
at first you didn't worry. Your body was vast,
unknowable, seemingly inexhaustible;
too late you realized this danger was too big,
that you'd never lull this to sleep.

You remember sailors used to call you with songs
the most beautiful woman to ever swallow them
whole. Nowadays we laugh at them, mistaking
manatees for mermaids, their want spinning
the salty yarns. But the truth all sailors know
is it was you, riding sea cow-girl above the waves.

Phoenicians and Norsemen, Polynesians and Portuguese-
you had many lovers court you across the centuries.
And every virgin race you took shyly in? You were perfect
and passionate the lover every time. Your only mistake
was you were yourself: giving and abundant,
while also moody... as they say, unfathomable.

Mankind is a spoiled brat. You learned that soon,
but it was already too late. Greedy hands grabbed
at you, taking anything they could find, cursing you
when they lost themselves in your depth. Not seeing
or caring about your thousand, thousand wounds.

When you awoke, you were imprisoned in an aquarium.
That's a place mankind built to exhibit the dying
before they are forever gone. And you are gone,
from ocean and river, pond and puddle, gone or going
quickly. And all mankind can do is shuffle past
your water tank, and mutter "Sorry"
but never once look you in the eye.

And now the oceans are dying.

It was like, once they cut your sea-legs
out from under you, they put you in a bathtub,
helpless. And the rotted drain-plug can't help
but let the water slowly out.
It is in this way, left up to Man,
you would drown on dry land.