Hosted by Kath Abela Wilson
Being a poet, my father made me feel I could do and be anything I wanted. I could swim. They thought I could dive. It was true that I made graceful motions at the deep end of the pool. But really I felt a shiver about the hard bottom and the cold depths. I never shared that. I just danced and smiled Somehow no one ever noticed the difference.
teaching the diving class
I was the mermaid
~ Kath Abela
Ο Ο Ο
They say being an orphan is tough, imagine being an orphan with leukemia. It’s like being struck twice by lightning. But Rossie never complained. Only 5 years old, she was my favorite patient.
She loved the princess story and lived by it. We used to play pretend, I would play the witch step mother, coax her with an apple and as the princess Snow White she would eat a bite or two. Sometimes that’s all she could eat.
I read her the little mermaid just last week. Oh how she loved this story! She said to me, she no longer wanted to be the Snow White. She wanted to be Ariel the little mermaid. “You know Doc, one day when I’m healthy enough, like Ariel, I would go and find my prince”. I laughed and said, “Yes! you would, my little mermaid”. Since then I called her my little mermaid.
Now I’m sitting by her empty bed. My little mermaid is gone. Free…
this little girl
confined in bed
the little mermaid
she pretends to be
Ο Ο Ο
anemones softly wave
their pink tentacles,
again telling me mermaids
are too good not to exist
Ο Ο Ο
On this sea-blue shirt
schools of sleek mermaids swim, pause,
waves crashing on rocks.
Ο Ο Ο
Kathy Uyen Nguyen
songs from Vietnam…
the mermaid in myself
who traded her fishtail
for a walk along
a thousand broken seashells
what it means
to be human–
in grandparents’ old shed
the purest white conch
snared in tattered fishing nets
just where I left
the conch shell
at grandparents’ old shed
my voice no longer a child’s
Mermaids: Quotes and Credits
Elisa Theriana, from Bandung, Indonesia, works as a computer programmer. She has been an ardent reader of fiction since childhood days, including the princess stories. With a tint of feminist spirit, her favorite princess character is Ariel the little mermaid, who instead of waiting to get rescued by the Prince charming, could be the one to rescue her prince.
Debra Woolard (DW) Bender aka Debi, once lived in Hawaii, long before she began to write haiku, tanka and other poetry of various genres. A non-swimming beach was a couple blocks behind her home, where she would walk with her babies and they would look for puka shells, gaze at the natural sea life gardens in the tide pools, brown themselves in the sun, and see what the net-casting fishermen were catching that day. Sometimes they would be gifted a small bucket of little fish to fry up and eat for lunch. Her pictured “mermaid” bust, seen in an antique mall, recently brought those olden days to mind. Years later, she would produce and publish a large online magazine for the World Haiku Club, founded by Susumu Takiguchi. She would serve as Editor in Chief, “A Wave of Moonlight: Japanese Women Poets,” column, and “Short Verses” Editor for World Haiku Review for a number of years, as well as being WHC’s Deputy Chair, facilitating international haiku groups and poetry activities on the old eGroups/YahooGroups listserve.
Vince Gotera says: “When I first got the shirt I thought it had an abstract design. Then the mermaids just seemed to appear. Maybe mermaids are like that…they’ve always been there but we couldn’t see them somehow. Magic!” He recently published The Coolest Month, a collection of April poems; other poetry collections include Fighting Kite, Ghost Wars, and Dragonfly. Vince blogs at The Man with the Blue Guitar.
Kathy Nguyen is an athletic trainer (sports medicine healthcare professional) and a yogi-athlete. She dabbles in art, writing, and adventures. These tanka were inspired by one of her grandparents’ houses from her childhood. It was a white wonderland with piles of seashells everywhere. Sadly, her grandparents moved the next summer, and that magical house became a memory and perhaps to a certain extent, a mermaid’s tale.
Peter Larsen, Tujunga, California: Contemplative Mermaid, September 1996. Honduran mahogany on walnut, 17¼ inches tall. The tide came in and she disappeared. [Work time: 18¼ hours.]
Toti O’Brien, Los Angeles, California: “I have grown up facing the straight of Messina, with eyes full of ocean and ears full of fabulous sea-creatures. Mermaids were natural companions to me. I have never met Disney’s Ariel during my childhood, but I have loved Andersen’s little mermaid—she is such a strong, determined, brave and alas tragic character. Once, an uncle went to Copenhagen and sent me a postcard with a bronze girl sitting on a rock, guarding the entrance to the harbor. In the harbor of Messina, a Madonna welcomed the traveler. I like her, but to have a mermaid instead seemed such a marvelous thing! Build a monument to a fairy tale heroin—a young girl, at that—make her the symbol of town, what a great idea! So I wished to make more and more ‘sirenette’, of my own.” See Toti O’Brien’s work on her website.
♣ We welcome and encourage your response, especially in the form of a short poem, by leaving a comment below.
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