But a mermaid has no tears
and, therefore, suffers so much more.
Hans Christian Andersen
All night I dreamt of land. Of soil
crumbling through my fingers to leave
black parings under broken nails,
of fields spread with dung and that melancholy
light of autumn, the colours of clay and fire,
where morning has a yellow tongue.
Could I exist in air?
In this oceanic deep you lie embedded
in the womb of my heart,
attached by an umbilicus of longing,
my aqueous nightgown transparent
I don’t even know who this you is.
Though I’ve pictured your all too human body
naked on my bed of cowrie shells,
visualised our house of cloth and tar,
ash walls mortared with the glue
of boiled fish bones.
Water accepts everything,
even the misshapen.
Over and over I’ve tried to imagine
a need for balance,
that slow steadying of the inner ear,
metatarsals pushing into solid ground.
Yet though I wait and wait
time returns me only to myself
as night to morning,
as sea to the shore,
so, where your voice
should be, there is only silence.