We find it lying on the beach:
A lump of scales and fingernails,
An inky trail up from the water
Slithering through the sand
Its eyes open and filmy
As if surprised by the sudden darkness,
Eyelashes heavy with tiny black pearls,
Its hair slicked shiny and black over the white sand,
I remember sailing with Papa
And Uncle would pop open a can
And say “Did you ever hear, son, about the siren songs?
And how they sound like the river through a sizzling summer,
With tones as rich as dark, heavy plums
That could lure any sailor overboard?”
They would tell me of their fine flax hair
And scales the color of the moon
Rippling over the calmest waters,
And how their satin lips
That could charm Odysseus
Held sharp, sharp teeth:
Knives that tore away skin like birch bark
And crunched bones with sound like Christmas crackers,
And how the sea ran red like the sunset
Whenever they were near
I used to imagine them waiting
In the quiet Gulf,
Beautiful and dangerous,
And sometimes If I listened hard,
I heard a whisper of a sound
That sent toothbrush tingles up my back
And made me think of crimson waves
We find it lying on the beach,
Rotting sea smell in our noses,
Sun sinking muddily behind the clouds
As the graying ocean foams and froths below,
A black line shimmering slickly on the horizon.
We stand over it briefly, shoe-shuffling
Like friends of friends at a funeral,
Uncomfortable in our blacks.
Some predatory fish,
You can tell by the rows of teeth.
Father nods along, knowingly,
Kicking at the flies amassing on the kelp-wound tail.
We leave it lying there
On the beach:
Another rank and misshapen creature,
Eyes wide as if searching for ships,
Face sunk in the seepage from tarred lungs,
Bony fingers clawing for air,
Blackness slicked over too sharp teeth.
And we turn towards home,
To where the sea is silent but the lights are on.