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By Jehanne Dubrow

You remember the mermaid makes a deal,

her tongue evicted from her throat,

and moving is a knife-cut with every step.

This is what escape from water means.

Dear Colleagues, you write, for weeks

I’ve been typing this letter in the bright

kingdom of my imagination. Your body

is a ship of pain. Pleasure is when you climb

the rocks and watch the moonlight

touching everywhere you want to go,

a silver world called faraway. Dear Colleagues,

you write, this place is a few sentences

contained by the cursor’s rippling barrier—

what happened here is only beaks

and brackets, the serif’s liquid stroke.

The old story has witches, a prince in love

with the surging silence of women,

a knife that turns the water red. You write,

Dear Colleagues, now these years are filed

in the infinite oceans of bureaucracy.

Everything bleaches or fades. In other words,

goodbye. Sometimes it’s possible to walk,

although you’ve been told inside the oyster

shell of your heart there is no soul.

Creatures like you must end as a spray of salt,

green droplets floating breathless in the air.


Source: Poetry (January 2020)

  • Activities
  • Living
  • Mythology & Folklore

Poet Bio

Jehanne Dubrow
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of seven poetry collections, including American Samizdat (Diode Editions, 2019), as well as a book of creative nonfiction, throughsmoke: an essay in notes (New Rivers Press, 2019). See More By This Poet

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