• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 08

Mermaid in a Bell Jar

Turf Coffee House, December 1822

She can only breathe
when she is back under

the glass. Her skin folds
not used to air,

the dust mites drifting
plurally down her hair

and snout. It's beautiful,
she thinks sometimes,

to have gills so still.
And yet to have a tail

is always a form of reaching —
like wanting money. Coffee

people drink their black
blurs, toss their change

and leave — she sees them.
The heat expands the air

inside her jar. She is
the warmest thing in the room,


Mermaid in a Bell Jar

and she knows it. Her scales
crack, and the resin

on her eyes begins to peel.
A kind of snowing.