When the Mermaids Sing, by Sara Claytor

2010 James Larkin Pearson Contest for Free Verse, Third Place

When the Mermaids Sing
by Sara Claytor

These are mumbling days,
our tomorrows have been mortgaged
we live in small houses
tight spaces
walls closing in
looking into darkness
pretending not to know the people
sitting next to us.

But when the mermaids sing,
along the beach dunes
sea oaks shimmy
like women
dancing in black veils
moonlight meanders
in and out
of wet rocks;
we no longer wear our shrouds.

Above, the sky–wide, free, unfettered
by milky clouds,
listening to night’s tender blood
scrape against bones
of frozen stars
as night undresses, strewing clothes
in cornfields
over houses
coating roadways.

We thread the barb,
feel something moving in the dark,

we reach out . . .

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