The Mermaid Learns to Walk
The sand around her refracts and shines
like glass. She focuses on each glittering
grain, each new salty breath she takes,
so that she doesn’t really feel her green
fin split into two milky white props.
She marvels at the way her scales, scallop-edged,
flake off to reveal such a smooth
surface. She is naked and awake. Her hair
tangles around her body like seaweed,
binding her to the sandbar. He takes
her hand without asking and she smiles
a tongueless, toothy smile. It is true
that every step pierces the bottoms
of her brand new feet, each grain
grinds into her skin. Yet, she remains
both silent and lovely. She simply smiles
and breathes, wonders at her new world,
leaving a trail of dark red footprints in her wake.
If you’ve read my blog at all regularly, you know that I’ve written a lot about my knee injury for the past 6-ish months. In my writer’s group, I’ve decided to write explicitly about this experience, because I feel like the injury-healing-rehabilitation process is a really visceral experience.
My only problem with this topic is that it feels like I’m totally in my head and my (subjective) experience and it’s starting to get claustrophobic. I need to broaden my lens. As I was falling asleep two nights ago, I tried to remember any myths or fairy tales that involved walking or legs, and I seemed to recall that Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid included those themes. On yesterday’s day off, I looked up the story.
Boy-howdy was I right. There is so much in this story, about male-female relationships, adornment, sacrifice and of course, having legs, that I may just turn it into a cycle of poems. We shall see.