by Brandon O’Brien

they never used to mention this
in them children’s stories. 
they never tell me that 
on the edge of everything I would find you, 
your hair a sunrise of headstrong strands like mine, 
your skin a homely shade of earth like mine, 
they never say sirens come in baritone. 

I used to watch your whole band, 
each body of this choir emerge from froth 
and take the quiet deadly serious: 
who would tap stones to keep time, 
and whose voice would keep warm with whispers 
of daring daydreams about us dry boys, 
and the aging chorister and his ragged scales 
whose voice could make starlight dim in jealousy 

and you, voix de l’eau, a round obsidian 
skipping against the lake in my chest. 
they never tell me sirens does sing calypso, 

bitter calypso about the colour of the water and 
eager calypso about a fisherman’s soft lips and 
even some songs about me, 
crouched behind a palm to hear, a confidential audience, 
learning the deep’s secrets, and seeking to go deeper 
about you, about your lyrics and the mouth 
that made them, about resting my ear 
against the centre of you and hearing 
what the ocean has to share. 
I wish someone did mention this sooner. 

© Copyright Brandon O’Brien

Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. His work has been shortlisted for the 2014 Alice Yard Prize for Art Writing and the 2014 and 2015 Small Axe Literary Competitions, and is published in Strange Horizons, Reckoning, and New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean, among others. He is the former poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. His debut poetry collection, Can You Sign My Tentacle?, is forthcoming from Interstellar Flight Press.

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