The Mermaid Loses Her Voice
Jeannine Hall Gailey
I don’t know what they told you, but it wasn’t for love.
I was the disobedient daughter, the one who couldn’t bear
a life on the waves. I wanted to be something new.
If I wanted a new body, here was the price.
Long legs for a selkie’s songs. I was tired of mystery,
wanted to wander land-bound for once.
The prince was merely an interlude. I was lonely.
I let him carve a portrait of me into stone.
But I had no interest in staying still for him.
Men loved me for my body, so unavailable, unassailable….
they tried to catch me in nets. Now I’m one more
long-haired lass in low-cut jeans in a tavern, listening to them
boast about conquering the sea. But I am the sea.
Every night it tosses me about in my dreams.
My lips taste saltwater instead of wine.
I wake up strangled by the smell of seaweed.
Still I straggle on the rocks like I’m waiting to be swept
up again. They wait for me, my sisters, on the sea foam,
waiting for me to join them, my inevitable trip home.
Jeannine Hall Gailey is the Seattle-area author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011), an Eric Hoffer Montaigne Medal finalist for 2012. Her third book, Unexplained Fevers, due out from Kitsune Books in late 2013, is a collaborative book of poetry and art that explores the inner lives of fairy tale characters. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She reviews poetry books for The Rumpus. Her poems have appeared in journals like The Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. She volunteers for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches at the MFA program at National University. Her web site is www.webbish6.com.
Deborah Scott, a graduate of the Drawing and Painting Atelier at Gage Academy of Art, lives with her husband and two children in Seattle, WA. Prior to Scott’s painting career she worked as a global brand marketer with familiar brands including Cheerios, Betty Crocker, and Amazon.com. Scott’s work is unique, contemporary and whimsical and it can be seen in a wide range of national venues including 2012 Contemporary Realism Biennial at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Roq La Rue Gallery in Seattle, WA, the Hive Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, and Susan Eley Fine Arts in New York, NY. www.deborahkscott.com