Mermaid tail going into blue water.

I was twelve
when I opened the page
captioned Carlos and me,
my teacher’s lips
pressed like hothouse flowers
into his. Ah,
she forgot it was there,
that kiss against the sky in Lisbon,
just as we forget
that in every cupboard door
a shadow in the wood
dreams of returning to the earth,
of unfurling its roots
the way a mermaid, half-awake,
scales flashing carnation pink,
might roll from the edge
of a raft, unfurl her tail, and swim
back to the life she loved.

That Christmas, Miss Taylor
made us ornaments. Yvonne,
she gave red. Earth-core.
Magma. An unclip
your flyaway hair, Yvonne,
and prepare for reckless pilgrimage.

I got green. Edge of earth. Drowsy
pines shining from the hook
on the tip of her finger.

Aguas passadas
nao movem moinhos.
Past water
doesn’t move mills.

Not true. For I will never
do my laundry beneath
an open cupboard door.
For one night its deadly corner
whispered into Miss Taylor’s ear:
come with me.

Photo by HarshLight, used and adapted under CC.