by B. Sharise Moore
On May 20, 2020, journalist Harley Lyons conducted an exclusive interview with a West African Mermaid (Jengu) at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD. The transcript can be read below.
Q: For so long, you have remained an enigma. What secrets burn from your skin?
(She responds in a tongue as old as an odyssey.)
A: Everything begins with myth. Stories are an artery of imagination. A labyrinth. A tunnel of deeper tunnels still.
Q: Your hair mimics a tangled garden of coral. What spells conjure this masquerade?
A: Camouflage is exquisite armor. A shield of shadow and cork-screwed anemone. I am more story than spell. More belief than not.
Q: Explain your capture. Where were you found? What arms were strong enough to pull you from ocean to shore?
A: First, came a haunting wave off the coast of Cameroon. Then, my skin was a kaleidoscope shorn from sunshine. A chorus of rainbows caught in a net and sold to a freak show halfway across the world.
(Her dinner arrives: a kabob of charred words and seaweed smothered wishes. She says eating poems gives her hope and offers me a bite. I decline. She swallows it whole without chewing.)
Q: Humans have recreated a paradise for you inside these walls. How does it compare to your once and only ocean home?
A: Freedom snatched is like the loss of a limb. A rancid wound with no hope for healing. This man-made castle of reef and spiral is a mirage. A pretty cage is still a prison even when its bars are plastered with pearls.
As I leave this cruel exhibit, I scrap the interview in solidarity. Treasure our dialogue like the poems she eats for dinner. Hope she one day recovers her limbs.
© Copyright B. Sharise Moore
B. Sharise Moore is a New Jersey native and graduate of Rutgers University. Moore’s poems and short stories have either appeared in or are forthcoming from several anthologies and journals such as Chosen Realities: Summer 2020, These Bewitching Bonds, and Fantasy Magazine.
Read the Rest of the May Issue
- An Interview with the Mermaid on Display at the National Aquarium by B. Sharise Moore
- Kanaka Mer by AJ Hartson
- Fisherman’s Soup by Kristina Ten
- Mermaid Eating by Chlo’e Camonayan
- Walk on Water by Yvette R. Murray
- NB, Steampunk Mer by AJ Hartson
- How to Bind a Sailor’s Heart by Jelena Dunato
- Pen and Ink Mer by Liz Aguilar
- Sirens of the South by Gee Pascal
- Be Brave by Caitlin Cheowanich
- The Donkey and the Mermaid by Panchita Otaño
- Fat Mermaid in: Wardrobe Malfunction by Grace Vibbert and Marie Vibbert
- Sinking, Singing by Gwynne Garfinkle
- Goth Mer #1 by Che Gilson
- Operating from a Space of Truth: An Interview with Amy L. Bernstein and Michelle D. Smith by Julia Rios
- The Incident at Veniaminov by Mathilda Zeller
- Submissions Report by Julia Rios
- Goth Mer #2 by Che Gilson
- Mer-Maid and Mer-Butler by Ivor Healy