Poem Hunter
Fish Stories
KM ( / )

Fish Stories

Tout pret, the family mermaid says,
Mirror and comb held high, a touch
distracting from the finny undercarriage
That doesn't seem ready for much.

Sharp knives, or so the story goes,
await if she casts up on foreign shores
for love, and trades her bottom half for legs-
I'm here to testify that's how things are,
except to say it's much too neat
to claim the stab's felt in the feet.

Get out with fluff like that: John Donne,
Garrulous old cocksman, took the foot
As a surveyor's mark: he knew
About putting to sea, and where and what to put,

And all I can say is, having knocked a few myself
like the old sailor, two at a time, it's hell
on wheels to get the merimaid treatment
just when your heart's pealing like a hysterical bell:

It's a pain I know, but it's been quite half
a lifetime, and I thought it was done
Once I'd flung the mirror and comb to either side,
Bit into the pillow and ordered myself, bear down,

So maybe this was a first time in some way I don't yet
Completely get.
Given your mermaid,
Chucked ashore by some wave that tilts her whole
Perspective, her scales half flayed,

Deciding Walk? Why not? Go for broke!
You might or might not imagine
That the pain that follows is like a surge
of drums, like the crazy freedom that comes when

You know you're falling, so far past
even the show of hanging on
That it's a bleeding blazing joy
To just fall: that it could be ten

Thousand times worse and never be
too much for me to want, so long as you
are the wave smacking the breath out of me,
and if that blows the story, I always knew

That bimbo with her vanity-tackle
was fishy even though classically pretty:
Tout pret my (shall we say) foot, the entire point
With this type thing is that you're never ready.


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Maya Angelou

Caged Bird

Comments (1)

Very interesting poem. Would like to see more.