the flamed mermaid

By Michelle Rochniak

the flaky bones of ocean monsters’ prey
sift through the currents to my doorstep.
the firewood of the merpeople village burns:
opal-toned marrow ash.

they said fire girls can’t have scaly tails;
when i flap my flukes at the sun,
their cerulean turns scarlet.

it’s funny how scorpio sounds
like a fire sign. i collect the bones
to earn my keep. no one likes
the red heart i wear on my chest.

yet every time the kraken comes along,
i am a hero. only i see the strategy in his
bulging, yellow eyes. i’ve got just enough 
siren in my bones to command the rope
to wrap around its tactical tentacles.

am i friends with the eels? you could say that.
they also live in slippery rooms, slither
through rocks, know what it’s like to find 
your next meal in the dead of night
when no one else haunts the kitchen.
and i’m not green. i like the contrast.

Learn more about Michelle in their bio on the Featured Author page.

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