Mermaids

We’d explode from the change in pressure
before we saw daylight, and anyway
evolution has sheathed our eyes as dead ends.
We live by taste, which is really smell;
we taste what’s diffused in water
and sense the direction. Carcasses mostly.

We’ve kept a vague idea of our shape:
wing-spindles propelling us forward,
armoured backplate, excretory organs.
But sex is a mystery. Our best guess
has males as krill-like specks
which winkle, sometimes, under our chitin.

We sing to each other in pheromone, never
certain how message matches to sender.
Sometimes we taste our long past’s echo.
We cultivate theories on the existence
of dry land, spin theologies of loneliness. We hang
translucent in love’s deepwater trenches.

John Clegg

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