If I were a mermaid and you
merely man shipwrecked
at a boring party

you might hear me
more dolphin than siren

reluctant where sailors are
out of their depth. I might turn
my tail into legs and go

because I inherited from my mother
her bony frown of hips

her own singing slipping, many years
into rue
and small children, like livestock

I might only hold my face to the wind
or pull back a curtain of wave to watch
you put a record on, Herbie Hancock’s

Maiden Voyage: you on the balcony
sharp toed shoes tapping out the music
of watery chords I hold to my ear like a shell

Image provided by Thomas Hawke under the Creative Common License Attribution Non-commercial 2.0

Ashley Oakes

Ashley is a poet, photographer, and tutor. Her poems have appeared in Westview and Quadrant Quarterly. Like Don Williams, she counts old folks, babies, music, and magic as things she be-lieves in and loves, but stresses that she also believes in herself.