A Mermaid Reports from Okeanos

by Pat Tompkins

You may think it’s all serenading sailors in tropical waters, drifting la-di-da 
daylong. Think again. Saltwater turns my hair into straw. And scale itch 
from sea lice—no fun. Add sun damage and I feel more like a crocodile 
than a sea princess. But tough skin is necessary to survive storms and tanker 
wakes. Swimming and seaweed keep me healthy.

As for all of us in the sea, finding food takes most of my time. It’s not always 
plentiful, given the competition, and increasingly there’s trash—plastic bags, 
tin cans, glass bottles, sewage from giant cruise ships—whole archipelagos 
of garbage, plus fish lines and nets to avoid. Nowadays, I’m spending more time 
deeper down, where it’s darker and quieter.

Despite the debris, what could be a better home than the ocean? Yet humans 
call our planet Earth, getting the name wrong.

sea horses,
manta rays, and giant squid
exceed fantasy
you lack imagination
and empathy

© Copyright Pat Tompkins

Pat Tompkins is an editor in northern California. Her poems have appeared in Sunlight Press, Contemporary Haibun, Dwarf Stars, and other publications.

Read the Rest of the September Issue

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