Sea Glass Badge of Courage (on killing Grendel’s Mother with the sand in my shoe)
To all the mermaids
at the ocean floor
in corral cities
still living with their parents, haunted
by stories of Ariel and her
transformation, only to be
by the object of her fancy:
Your lack of red-haired rebellion has
I never left home either.
Until now, I suppose.
My parents don’t even know
They think I’m at school because
I’ve never given them cause to think otherwise. I
snuck out the bathroom window at lunch to drive here because
my english teacher told us that heroes face their fears.
And I’m afraid of the ocean.
All those clickbait articles about
bloated white ghouls
swimming with crooked teeth
out of the endless blue, inevitably popping up
at the bottom of online encyclopedia entries
make me hold my breath, momentarily
sucking me in
to their horrible mirky domain.
summertime used to scare me as a child—
and all those
shivering mirages on the blacktop.
And I only learned to love June when
someone finally asked to be my friend
and held my hand
when we crossed the fathomless pavement.
So I thought that
maybe you’re afraid of the dry land
as much as I’m scared of the ocean floor.
And I thought
maybe I’d write you a letter
and see if you wanted to
hold a bit of each other’s world in a bottle and
wave at each other
through coca-cola binoculars.
I mean, you don’t actually have to
leave home, to
make a deal with the devil, to
get those sexy legs, to
trip into dragon-scarred arms.
I mean, I’m going to
slip back into those nondescript halls, going to
paint myself to match their grout-and-green tile
just as soon as I send this bottle to you.
I mean, we don’t need expatriate black magic to
live worthwhile Stories.
I don’t think anyone has
I haven’t noticed you either
because I was so afraid of
behemoths swimming in
that I didn’t stop to think that
you might exist too
with anemone streetlamps
and blowfish for pets.
I’m not ready
to dive underwater yet,
and I wouldn’t expect you to
jump from the glittering waves to the
cracked, sun-blackened surface.
So I thought instead we might send letters.
maybe I could tell you about
how the air smells
when the leaves start to tarnish and
why for some reason
the death of a year makes me feel so
Maybe in exchange you can tell me
what the water feels like
running through your hair during the
Or something like that.
if you don’t write back,
but if you do,
I’ll be back here in
to look for the red return bottle.
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