Featured Poem • March 2016
Deep Sea Mermaid Fishing
My mother—like I—was a seamstress of nets who knew to weave the enchantment of hold, stay, and tell me into the corners of her traps. Our nets do not catch fish our nets catch the tales of the sea creatures, their knowledge, the blue tint truth, their coral tales, their storm ballads of rock and shores. My mother said to me (giving up her net weaver’s loom): go and catch the mermaid of the deep seas, the deep sea mermaid of the abyss blue. Her fish skin is bottom ocean black, her fish fin a blade of blades, a waterslice knife. She has arms that will drag you down, strong and pretty as coral leaf and swaying kelp, and hair like a bleeding volcano’s gaping wound combed by waves. Her blue bulging eyes and her bay leaf mouth are treacherous travelers on a tempest sea; she is no easy prey. Reel her like silk, reel her like yarn of drunken sailors, reel her like a lover’s sigh. Reel her in. Make her quiver in your net. Make her tell you a tale. And so I went fishing, my nets like shadows behind me, my sails aiming for the stars, and beneath my feet soothing waves like cradle’s rocking. “Come into my nets,” I said, “my spell thick nets, my nets of charms, my nets of hold and stay and tell me, tell me because I need your voice. Come.” The sea rushed me from wave to wave like an orphaned gull but finally my nets caught scale, stilled swish of tail; mine was the mermaid of the deepest sea. “Tell me,” said I to her, siren beauty in my net. And she spoke the waves, the wind on water, the stones beneath, brushed current-smooth. She told the tales of ocean folk, of shark and sea urchin, of skate and seahorse. She sang to me the ballads only jellyfish sing when they drift through the deep, the silent hum of sleeping oysters. And she told me all the things only a deep sea mermaid may know. Her blue eyes were a world all of their own. “Hold me,” said I to her, sirenvoice beneath my sails. And through the net of nets her coralbright arms found mine left bruises and scratches on my landthin skin, and her bay leaf mouth held all my voice, held all my world, held all my self on turquoise cool lips. Through the net of mine it was her who spellspoke me awake again: “Stay with me.” Oh ocean! Oh water and salt! Oh horizon that knows no end! How could I go back to the earth? My mother like I was a seamstress of nets and just like I she wove a net. I told my deep sea mermaid: do not think that it’s magic I know, just hold, stay, and tell me, four words out of all of this language. Smiling she drew me down. “In your four words there is all the language there really is and all the magic one really needs; do not hold your breath.” My mother like I was a seamstress of nets and down in the blue, in the deep black heart of the blue our threads will meet and bind again.
Alexandra Seidel writes poems and stories of things born from imagination and dreams. Some of her work can be found in Goblin Fruit, Lackington’s, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. If you are so inclined you can follow Alexa on Twitter (@Alexa_Seidel) or read her blog: www.tigerinthematchstickbox.blogspot.com.
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