The Day the Final Mermaid Died

                                   —after Kai Cheng Thom

 

I was plumbing at home               listening to the news

 

& the gross heaving grease smell                of what my sink had to say

 

& that day it felt like everything was curdling

& I could almost feel my apartment breaking             like a plate shifting                out to sea

& I guess, I missed her

& I wanted to see her silver skin

 

& scales, the harpoon scars defiant on her side              one more time

 

&  all  along  the  gross  coastline  birds       were  limping  like little fists                 punching the dirt

              digging for carrion covered by breeze covered               by maggots covered                   by my

              own           not looking

 

& I knew I was getting close though                   because I heard her                          not song               I

              heard the gas leaking from her gills

 

& I saw her lovely tons of flesh             splayed on the shore              her breasts gigantic

              transparent     brine-bubbled skin           her whale-eyes gooey                 blinking

 

& beautiful in the unfiltered light of the beach

 

& she looked at me                              at a pail that sat in the sand

 

& I began to scuttle across the beach            to splash water on her gills

 

& I gathered gallon, gathered            gallon, gathered whole spilled                swimming pools

 

& what splashed           on my dress         burnt off                    left a crab crust of salt-shell

 

 

 

& I had loved her growing up             had her image                    maybe more doll-like           on every

              surface of my room

 

& I would finger the walls looking for water             looking for the coral would                      run my

              fingers across my own legs           hoping for a splinter of scales

 

& across my lap           looking for some flat slickness             I do not have &

I loved her for looking like that &                        eating sailors &                sinking their ships into the

              fat soup           of her hunger

 

 

 

 

& that day on the beach               my clothes kept cracking             for her

& blisters             nearly like gnarled coral calcified              my knuckles

 

& all the two of us could do was wait                for the frustrating tide

& hours after             high tide hadn’t helped             her body just wedged there          like a mottled

              log

 

& there was nothing I wanted to do except spit               on it         for having asked               for having

              that awful fish-feathered body            like the kind I have

 

& I        I wanted so badly to lick            the salt-breath from those lips          for myself              I

              wanted to         kiss           until the pink skin of her            gums receded             leaving pearls

              inlaid with bones

 

& one huge corpse to dismantle by saw

 

& haul away           I wanted to display my own ship-sinking anger               which I had learned

              from watching her           battling bait from the boats

 

& taking hook in fin

 

& then                       as if she sensed what I was thinking                               she slammed her fish-limbs

              on the land

& said in a voice           so tired &            oiled &         clogged

 

Thank you I will

miss you             all along.

Brynn is a transgender poet. Her work has appeared include Iowa’s Best Emerging Poets, Go Magazine, INK LIT MAG, The Paha Review, Little Village Magazine. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. You can find her @brynnfest on twitter and at brynnbogert.com

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