Mermaid 1 - Copy

by Olivia Somes

You ask me about the weather,
I shake you and yell don’t be afraid of me.

You cup my jaws with your hands
and hit my nose with your forehead.

I ask: is it in the weather?
You admit I can only open up to those I’ve hurt
.

Then you bare it all like the ribs of a starving child.
You were waiting for me for so long and me you.

You tell me that you love your children
but hate their company.

I say don’t feel guilty. They feel the same.
You confess about your mother,

about the times she locked you in the closet
with a flashlight and a copy of Charlotte’s Web.

You tell me how the outside sounded exactly
like giant crickets beating against wood.

I tell you my mother beat me my entire childhood.
You use some analogy about how her cigarette burns

are akin to a mama cat picking her kid up
by the neck: she was picking you up from the world.

You rub my back. I cry and disagree:
no she just hated my company,

at least your mother had good taste in books.
We embrace and I love the mango smell of your hair.

I decide to buy mango conditioner instead of strawberry.
You get jealous of my curls and tell me right away;

I don’t want us to be those people
who bury envy behind diets
.

You say I am jealous of how your hair curls
like ice cream and smells like strawberries
.
I tell you I am jealous of your eyes
that are like peacock feathers in milk
.

Right at that moment we make a pact:
jealousy with us means love and love means honesty.

We make many pacts after the first one:
never fake laugh at each other’s jokes
never use hinting as a form of communication
never ask mundane questions to break the ice
.

The next day we look each other in the eyes
and already know how we both feel about the weather
and you ask how I am and I tell you the truth.

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