It Wasn’t a Mermaid

by Wilda Morris

This poem originally appeared in Prairie Light Review


. . . Whether it was a reality or a dream, I could never
entirely settle. ~ Ishmael in Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville

I never know for sure if it was real
or did I dream I swam once with a seal
whose half-articulated wailing cry
was ghost-like, haunting all the Pequod’s crew.
She sought the pup she lost in days gone by.
Is this a memory I can’t construe
or did I dream I swam once with a seal?
I never know for sure if it was real.

Note: “It Wasn’t a Mermaid” is a Lil Ann poem, a form created by Carrie Quick. Although the epigraph is from Chapter 4 of Moby-Dick, the poem responds more directly to Chapter 126, in which the crew of the Pequod hears a plaintive, unearthly sound which many of them believe are mermaids. 

© Copyright Wilda Morris

Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair of Poets and Patrons of Chicago and a past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, has published over 700 poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications, including The Ocotillo Review, Pangolin Review, Modern Haiku, Brass Bell, and Journal of Modern Poetry. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku, including the 2019 Founders’ Award from the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Much of the work on her second poetry book, Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books, 2019), was written during a Writer’s Residency on Martha’s Vineyard. Her poetry is featured on YouTube videos from the P2 Collective. She is working on a book of poetry inspired by books and articles on scientific topics. Her poetry blog at features a monthly poetry contest.

Read the Rest of the July Issue

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