Today's poem is by Maura Stanton

The Anonymous Mermaid

I live in a big clamshell down here under the coral reef, and I don't go out much anymore. You see, I used to think I was special, with my flashy tail and perfect breasts. Blue-green, green-blue, aqua marine— my scales glittered, and I clamped shells in my long hair and swam besides boats singing in a gorgeous voice. Then I noticed something eerie. All mermaids looked just like me. Some of us had bluer or greener tails, or wore pink or white pearl necklaces, but it was hard to tell us apart. And our songs were so similar, full of sadness and verve, little bittersweet lyrics. A prince might fall in love with this one or that one. It didn't matter. We weren't getting anywhere. So I dived down here, found this empty clamshell, and decorated it with seaweed tapestries and sponge lounge chairs. I made myself a pair of isinglass spectacles, borrowed some squid ink, and began to compose an epic.


You were born looking just like all the other silver staples, shaped like a [bracket] and attached to the others in a long row The row was nestled inside a cardboard box with other rows that looked just like it. For a long time you waited for someone to open the box, dreaming about your fate. Maybe you were born to staple revolutionary scientific reports or vital government documents. Other rows were chosen. Then finally your row was lifted out and fitted down inside the stapler. The row broke into two pieces, and one staple fell out, hitting the floor with a sad ping, but the spring pressed the rest of you back together. Now you were number sixty in line. You felt a Wham. The first staple in your row stapled what it was destined to staple, and you jolted closer to the end. You were about to hold something together for the rest of your existence, and you tingled with joy Now! Now! The stapler head slammed down. Eeek! It wasn't your fault that you went into the paper crooked. Nevertheless, you were plucked out and tossed into a waste can.

Copyright © 2009 Maura Stanton All rights reserved
from Bateau
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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