Issue No. 1, Summer 2012

The Silence of the Siren

“Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.” – Franz Kafka

She’s got no fins, no tail either.
Just that mouth, red cherry halves split
into hearts. Just that set of lungs that
let her breathe under this teeming
sea of men who come

to the dance floor, sway and bow
before her feet, worship those tiny
white toes peeking from leather,
kiss those arches planted
on knifed heels. What comes

out of those lungs isn’t music,
isn’t sound. You can’t call it song.
That’s too worldly, too solid, too plain.
It’s breath, life blood, spilled out for coin.
Years ago, she came

from a different ocean, drowning
for attention, adoration, love.
Now, she wiggles her hips, lets a
slip of white thigh surface beneath
her glittered green dress. Come

dry land or high water, she’s made it
till closing time, that long dark walk
to the back row, where she puts her feet
on the back of a chair, begins that long
slow process of coming

down. Cigarette. Lighter. Soaking her
tongue in a straight glass of gin
until it’s so numb it can’t remember
the words. In the rest, the silence,
she becomes.

* * *


I understand a little something about hair; the way it catches light, effulgent,
diffident, indulgent. Big words for nothing more than dead strands of sorrow.

Why else cut them, all the time? I shed my locks every seven and a half days to rise from the burial chair, reborn into plaits and streams.

I like the way you look at me.

It doesn’t last. Dig me up in a hundred years and there will be an alabaster cage of rib and shin, the bowl of pelvis, maybe a thin bit of pinky bearing silver circles.

You want something that’s forever? Love the thick of my femur, the process of calcification. Love the edgeway of my inner ear bone, how it resonates

with crow cries. Kiss the edges of my finger bones, the dimpled hollows of my sockets. The soul is a slippery thing, as soft and fine as down.

Golden scales are not enough. Asps bear no bones to remember them by.
Enough of anything can kill you while I sleep. It’s the teeth you want,
in the end.

Shanna Germain’s stories, poems and essays have appeared in places like Absinthe Literary Review, Best American Erotica, Best Erotic Romance, Pank, Storyglossia, and more.