(based on suggestions from @jellyjellyfish, @cochineal, @quadelle, @johnnypurple, @pinknantucket and @pcblues)
If we had written her toes
they would have stabbed her author
We would make him walk on knives
if she suffers all of you suffers.
Princess mermaid fattens up
on a jelly prince, teases with servants
the most precious dress of beetle wings
to shine her comfortable shoes.
If we had written her mouth
It would have been round and loud
as an orange, swung open on a door hinge
deafening the royal line with salt words.
The workers struck mute line up
drones buzz a dress round her in satellite
Never led away from water as cattle like
a dumb beast on her spikes.
If we had written her longing
it would have been for a double.
A fishy thrilling doppelganger,
herself mirrored in the ocean’s glass
not immortal or split or dissolved
to worthless in the foam. True love at last.
She wouldn’t have damaged herself
for what she thought she wanted.
Today’s poem is based on suggestions from six peeps:
- @jellyjellyfish: the little mermaid
- @cochineal: bees please
- @quadelle: being alone
- @johnnypurple: making out with yourself/your double/your clone! (it was in my head & in my Doctor Who & in my X-Files this week!) Mulder/Mulder, Amy Pond/Amy Pond - as the Doctor said, true love at last!
- @pinknantucket: How about a dress made out of beetle wings?
- @pcblues: the next challenge for you is to write a poem that contains rhymes of satellite and orange
Like many people, I have issues with the original Hans Christian Anderson story of The Little Mermaid. In his original tale, in exchange for becoming human, her tongue is cut out (no wifty-wafty Disney-style voice extraction), she is split painfully up the middle to create her legs (and genitals, you'd imagine) and every step that she takes feels like she’s walking on knives.
“You must put up with a good deal to keep up appearances”, says her grandmother at one point.
There’s more to the deal – if the prince she’s given up her tail and tongue for doesn’t fall in love with her and marries someone else, she will gain no immortal soul and will turn to foam upon the sea.
"But if you take my voice," said the little mermaid, "what will be left to me?"
"Your lovely form," the witch told her, "your gliding movements, and your eloquent eyes. With these you can easily enchant a human heart.”
It’s the old story – woman holds her tongue, knowing silence [and her body] will speak for her. What a load of rotting seaweed.
Anyway, the prince mistakes someone else for his saviour (when it was really the little mermaid), marries the other girl, and when the little mermaid is given a chance to save herself by killing him, of course she doesn't do it. Off she goes, turns to foam, and then there’s a really odd, tacked on ending where ‘daughters of the air’ suddenly appear, take her up to heaven after all, and warn the kiddies to behave themselves or others will suffer.
Nice story, huh? Let’s learn from that one.
(There is another feminist interpretation that says the story can be read as a warning against enduring abuse for the sake of love, but I don't buy it. Especially given the odd ending.)
Ok. Rant over. That was my poem for the little mermaid, and what I want for her. And anyone like her.