Honey and Vinegar and Seawater

by Keyan Bowes

He was the kind of guy
When people told him
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
Said, well actually, you don’t,
And managed never to get the point.
If his words didn’t work, he added more vinegar.
He put it in a spray bottle and aimed it at his targets.
Now he’s up to a water-pistol.

So when he hooked a mermaid, out rock fishing,
And instantaneously coveted her
His first words to her were
Yo, Fish-Bitch!
Wanna come home with me?

She couldn’t, of course;
But she stretched an arm in his direction
Yearningly.
He unhooked her and off she swam 
With many a backward look.

He sold his Daly City home
And bought a condo off the Great Highway
Near Ocean Beach.
People wonder what he’s up to
When he clambers around near Seal Rock yelling, 
Yo, Fish-Bitch!

Often she appears,
Leaning her arms on the spray-wet boulders 
Amid sun-bathing seals, her long hair 
Dripping about her shoulders in the sunshine.
She sings a wordless song recalling whales.

He sits on the rocks and talks about himself.
He brings her offerings and gifts:
Pearls, coconut candy, and a sparkling hair-brush.
She toys with these things while she’s with him
But leaves them behind her when she swims away.

One day he’ll go out there on the rocks
When it’s foggy and the surf is high, 
Knowing he shouldn’t but not able to stay away. 
He’ll slip. She’ll be waiting.
Fish-Bitch knows all about honey and vinegar.

© Copyright Keyan Bowes


Keyan Bowes is frequently ambushed by stories and took the Clarion Workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers in self-defense. Her work has appeared online in a number of publications including Escape Pod, Fireside, and Constelación; and in print in a dozen anthologies including one from Flame Tree Fiction. She’s a member of SFWA. 

Normally peripatetic but San Francisco-based,  these days Keyan can be found online or somewhere near Puget Sound.   

Website: www.keyanbowes.org;  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/keyan.bowes 

Twitter: @KeyanBowes


Read the Rest of the August Issue

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