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upon learning my girlfriend is a mermaid

Tamara Jerée

girls grow into maps who are always endangered
by water and wind and fire and glacial
lust you explained when you slipped
from our bed and said you were going back to the sea

but what do you mean going back i said
you have always been here you have always
been a great swimmer you have always made
the best tea you have always—

i do not want to be cartographied onto backs
of dead whales i do not want to be valued
only for the treasures i remember
the ones encased in salt that never erodes

but we can buy a bigger bathtub we can move
to a cottage closer to the sea i would dust sand
over the dining room floor i would read you
books about the sea before bed i could
wear seashells in my hair the ones that clatter
as i walk just like my bones will shake without you

we could build a kingdom in the sea
just the two of us and the most glittering
swordfish to guard us the swiftest currents
to enclose us sirens to sing us to sleep

but i did not come from the sea

this town would have me clip the ocean’s
wings and deliver them in a jar
you are not landlocked my love
the sea becomes you

Tamara Jerée's poetry appears or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Uncanny (Disabled People Destroy Fantasy), and Arsenika. You can find them on Twitter @TamaraJeree or visit their website