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Beached Mermaids

—William Doreski

Beached Mermaids

Text secretes into landscape.

The tall grass is the hair of mermaids

beached when the legends went dry.

You blame the hills for blocking

the sunrise you cherish and clutch

to your plain but sturdy torso.

I’d brew coffee, but would you drink

anything tainted by my cookery?

The mermaids haven’t sung for years.

They’ve each given birth to a child

with a normal set of limbs.

This is evolution at work.

Don’t try to plumb it with faith.

Don’t expect those children to crowd

into the Unitarian Church

and sing hymns to Odysseus

to praise him for his trickery

and his tough and overstrung bow.

Don’t expect the hills to kneel

in homage to celestial notions

on which we can build no hope.

You bustle about your business

while text clouds over and gapes

with thunder blushing with shame.

Why should it care who hears it?

Time is the only dimension

we split into digestible snacks.

Text weeps over its failures

but continues to secrete phonemes

with which the beached mermaids rhyme.


WILLIAM DORESKI lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Venus, Jupiter (2023). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

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