After Paul Delvaux’s The Village of the Mermaids 1942
to weave ocean-coloured gowns
from tangled nets took hours,
occupational therapy at the mermaid’s retreat.
with our hands folded, cabins locked,
virtues preserved, the watchman checks on us;
our wide-eyed stares belie other lives.
he doesn’t know our fins wave wildly as
our tresses beyond these civilized walls
that shield landlubbers from tsunamis.
women imagine they are us, riding waves,
free to frolic, but we imagine being mortal, too,
belonging somewhere, the sun slicing our days.
it’s here we catch our breaths, meditate
on salty, fluid blessings, more
numerous than seashells on the beach,
before merging once again with our deep.
Cynthia Gallaher is a Chicago-based poet and playwright, is author of four poetry collections, including Epicurean Ecstasy: More Poems About Food, Drink, Herbs and Spices (The Poetry Box, Portland, 2019), and three chapbooks, including Drenched (Main Street Rag, Charlotte, N.C., 2018), poems about liquids. She made a 10-city book tour with her nonfiction guide & memoir Frugal Poets' Guide to Life: How to Live a Poetic Life, Even If You Aren’t a Poet, which won a 2017 National Indie Excellence Award.The Chicago Public Library lists her among its “Top Ten Requested Chicago Poets.”
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