Mermaids

by Sje

I fell off a boat and my body turned to water.

I felt heavy and light and all of the mermaids

I always knew were there put their silver-skinned arms around me,

and I didn’t drown.

Instead they gave me time to think, an hour or so or a thousand words.

So I thought about my mother and the plants she cared for like children when I left

and the soup ladles hanging above the stove and I thought about

bricks and sugar and cold,

and I thought maybe I could stay here and never say good-bye

like my father who said good-bye to his first daughter too late.

The mermaids listened with their eyes like my mother’s rainbow lullaby.

I wanted them to ask me to stay.

I wanted to tell them I wasn’t afraid, but I knew they would know I was lying.

And I decided then in between the stillness and hug of the water,

hard and gentle like the pulling of a weed,

that I wouldn’t be afraid, and I truly believed I was good.