When I Was Ten

I was a mermaid with a body the color

of the moon on dark water, hair of seaweed

flowing over my thin shoulders—


in my dreams

my skin is scales, brighter than mail, my eyes

sight through silt tossed in the waves, I scent

the fast-moving pods of orcas following seals,

catch the flashes of white bellies of sea-

going salmon, hear the grunt of cormorants,

the growl of puffins, feel the vast splash

of whales breaching—


I stay in the bath

too long, fingers pruning, feet beating

against the tub’s plastic sides, trying to feel

that kinship, the song of longing in my bones

for water around me, salt inside me, the push

of fins, down deep, to home.


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