Poetry for Meri

by Don Intonato


Sometimes sitting alone
on the beach at night,
waiting for her to arrive
out of the waves, I wonder
if it would have been easier
to love someone who is not
half-woman and half-fish.

On the shore, I carry her
from rock to rock;
in the sea, she tows me
like a toy in her wake.

She always diving
under the waves;
I coming up for air,
treading water.

And though we do not speak of it,
she knows that she will stay forever young;
that I already have grown old.

For me, the hardest part
is waiting for her each night on the shore
for that hour when mermaid and man can meet,
when the tide is high and the moon is full,

to watch her sitting on the rocks,
singing as she combs her silken hair,
the deep ocean in her voice,
the moonlight on her breasts,
the blue fluorescent curve of her tail.



under a gulp,
behind a cough,
between gasps for air,

I search for where
your sighs are stored,
a hiccup of the past,
a plum pit of fear.

But there is nothing here––
a shudder now and then
between your shoulder blades,
a little soreness in your breasts.

Nothing stuck in the epiglottis.
No Heimlich required.
No thump to the chest.

Still, I sit here awhile,
just to make sure,
listening to you breathe.

When you talk,
I look up and see the sunlight
on the tip of your tongue.