The Mermaids of Kansas City
The neighbors stopped by
after walking their greyhounds,
said the mermaids
were asking for you again.
Smiling, I shut the door.
I won’t intrude on your privacy;
I trust you implicitly. I don’t need
to know all you discuss
with scaled & silk-haired
women who prop themselves
on the cement curvature of fountains,
breasts to the sun—
heads tilted back
like Bernini’s St. Theresa in Rome,
where other fountain mermaids
bask in the same August heat
but speak Italian, bartering with locals
for goods in exchange for blessings.
These new saints caused such a ruckus
the Pope himself made a special trip
down the road to converse with them
about their dealings, gifting them
with rosaries, & carrying on
about the connection between
orthodox theology & aquatic life:
Christ’s love blotting out sin
the way the ocean dilutes everything.
While that’s true, I can’t help feeling
the curve of a bowl
we may be trapped in,
dreaming of an ocean—
unless that’s the sort of thing
that makes you anxious:
Because it reminds you of Jaws.
A death & fate, gruesome & gory
as hell: the wide open mouth
that leads out of whatever this is.
I love you. & want to draw you out
of any & all proximity
to that mouth, & to kiss yours,
whisper in your ear
that the mermaids are not in some basement,
but in the fountain off the Plaza, again.
Singing for you,
& when they aren’t,
they’re watching videos online
some citizens show them
of what our world will be like
in 50 years, if you don’t build an arc
made of words to cradle us
& the beloved creatures out of the mouth
of the oncoming storm,
& make it look easy.
Micah Ruelle is a Midwestern poet living in the Austin area.