Once, I was a mermaid with other mermaids,
decked out and parading down the boardwalk.
My gown trailed me, a tail of cerulean, my
cheeks the color the sky glistens when
it strikes the ocean.
Early that morning, the day the parade
flooded the streets with sea wreckage
and freaks, with connoisseurs, my
lover finished painting on my face.
His hat leaned sideways,
parrot feathers brassy as beetle wings
staining his hair. Two women dressed
as crabs scuttled down the lane before us.
My mouth blew bubbles, small tender
Seven moves later, three states: the gown
still hangs in the folds of my closet. When
I take it out, my soul, like some glass weight
washed on the sand, shivers. A great breath
of wind. Often,
I see a dark fedora tumbling past me
to break against the waves. Often, I see
mermaids trailing riotous hair, their
mouths unmoved by pity or the dark
heart of the sea.