by William Heath
Halfway down the path
I couldn’t see the house
but I could hear the sea.
The wind even brought
salt spray to my face
and, as the trees thinned,
there was the vast blue
undulating thing itself.
One solitary gull
glides on sickle-wings,
tilts and dips and skims
the swells, more for the thrill
than the fish (that’s how I’d feel),
veers and banks against the wind,
swings out and seems to lull,
before swooping past with creaking cry,
raucous, riding the wind.
The sea lifts us and lets us fall,
ever-moving, remorseless, it
sings its ancient song. I can hear
the sea-surge murmur like old mariners,
whispering of solitude and sameness,
no sail in sight, only the slow
measured sweep of the sea. Who can say
when the sea’s been weeping? Anybody
can stick his hand in its side.
At night the sea licks
the sand free of footprints,
only a slow silver line of surf
on the moonlit curve of the beach,
the shore glows around the bay bend,
a lone sail moves to a whim of wind.
The dark hooded waves churn in,
disclose, for a second, their white skulls,
then die on the sand, dragging pebbles.
There is a cemetery under the sea.
The ships of the lost are sunk
beneath the plummet of thought.
The petrified ears of drowned sailors
are shoved up, like shells, on the sand;
eyes, like jellyfish, trailing nerves
like legs; guts strung among the seaweed;
skin films and floats away; teeth,
sucked to smoothness, spit out like pearls.
I press a circle of glass
to my face, strap on two steel lungs,
and dive below the pellucid skin of the sea,
seeking buried treasure. I dream down
into deeper green, chuckling bubbles
and chewing seaweed. Down to touch the bones
of the lost with the wrinkled fingers
of an underwater lover. Here I discover
a maze of mermaid hair. You are the treasure.
© Copyright William Heath
William Heath has published two chapbooks and a book of poems, three novels, an award-winning work of history, and a collection of interviews with Robert Stone. visit: www.williamheathbooks.com
Read the Rest of the August Issue
- The Heart Sings A Siren by Ali Trotta
- A Nereid’s Guide to the Underworld by E. Catherine Tobler
- Depths by Thomas Jones
- Mammiwata Bay by David Ishaya Osu
- Only Circles in the Sea by Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna
- Twenty Thousand Last Meals on an Exploding Station by Ann LeBlanc
- An elegy for voices Ariel traded for legs by Agwam Kessington
- Dream by Mila Nowak
- mermaid life by Susmita Ramni
- Mystery of the Deep by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
- more fat mermaids by Linda M. Crate
- Waking Dream by Kim Coleman Foote
- Honey and Vinegar and Seawater by Keyan Bowes
- They Will Try to Drain You by Valerie Herron
- The Sea King’s Second Bride by C. S. E. Cooney
- Self portrait as an ocean bed by S. Rupsha Mitra
- Mami-Wata by Tony Ogunlowo
- Underwater Eclipse by Cito Wheelington
- Loving the Other: Hans Christian Andersen and the evolution of mermaid romance in Wester media by Carrie Sessarego
- What Mother Failed to Mention About Dating a Mer-Man by LindaAnn Loschiavo
- I Want to Be Where the People Are: Disability and The Shape of Water by Elsa Sjunneson
- I Am Not Your Tragedy by Carlie St. George and Clare McCanna
- Canto for a Mermaid by William Heath