• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 07
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How to be a mermaid in times of trouble

Look, they're gardened here, air flowering warm in parloured foliage, watching those baited feet, dibbled fingers panning

pearls, Cherie's pebbled toes. Sweet eddies of morning light
thread an enamelled basin's quiet eye, lessons in stillness.

Mama's dress fences her body in with a percale palisade,
each rippled samphired sea-thrift line purpling its flow,

as if her lap is salt with waves. Arms fin out, legs scaled
with the weight of things, a quick flittering of tails. Listen.

It's strange how sound drowns in water, a Zeppelined hum
caught between Tuileries and Seine, the whispered flak along

Rivoli. Diving is an easy thing, she holds hands, counts a fire
of flying fish, un, deux, trois, and they slip down, down below

a bask of gentle lanterned man-of-war. Breathe. Their lips are sea-caved, pink as cockle shells, hear the sirens singing.