Syrena Contemplates the Question “Do you talk?”

after Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

I speak as the water lily, perennial nymph
blooming on the tannin-blue pond. I could
list the twenty-two ways pond is different
than ocean, starting with empathy & coral.
I knew a girl who learned irony from a poster
of the open sea. More than anything she wanted
to be the saltwater on a drowning man’s
crown, to slip into his eye & sting just so
he’d know he was still alive & whisper
an hourglass name in her wake. I wonder
why children never sing water water
we all fall down if water is deeper
than ash & if water chose to save a man
who never met a mermaid, what makes
you think it will save me—I start to say,
but your eyes are clinging to my tail
like a pair of heart-empty barnacles
desperate for anything to eat.


Jessica Hudson received her Creative Writing MFA from Northern Michigan University, where she worked as an associate editor for Passages North. Her work has been published in The Pinch, West Trade Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Pithead Chapel, and Sweet Lit, among others.

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