WILLA v1 - The Mermaid's Song

Volume 1
Fall 1992

The Mermaid's Song

It must be told
It must be told
And so it is...

Unspoken words
A heart carries
Inside itself.
Too heavy to bear,
Too hard to say
But there,
Telling its story
To a life that can't stop listening
To the sounds of the past
Saying to the present
It must be told --
It must be told...

Little girls listen to their heartbeats,
As their fingers fondle the brush ends of their braids
Roped tightly together
Bound by brown rubber bands
Doubled over thick clumps of hair falling gracelessly
Over bent shoulder blades.
They listen to the heavy breathing
Of a whiskey-sodden father
And smell the stench of a man who hated

They feel the nights
Descending with the
Menace of the dark;
Unforgiving nights
That keep the secrets of the house,
Til daylight gives them away
To everyone -- to everyone -- to everyone.

And when they all know,
And they will,
Little girls must hide,
Or turn inside themselves
To flowing ivory dresses,
Silverhandled mirrors at rest
On soft linen lace,
And yellow roses in cut-crystal vases
That catch the corners of the sun,
Spilling its light
Across pianos
Lacquered bright,
In empty, gorgeous rooms
Of colored-carpeting,
Polished floors,
French doors,
And bound books,
Fitted in shelves that rise
To pale blue mouldings
Framing the beloved space.

Then little girls must see the blanket
Pulled across the mother's face --
muted rage in every breath
That heaves beneath
The faded quilt
Now worn and used
Like the life
That clutches
To its dingy pattern.

And when the heartbeats stop,
A moment's pause in its
Unrelenting history,
The fingers fall
From the blunted ends of hair
And rise to flooded eyes
To clear the mist ...

And little girls must listen once again.

By Sondra Melzer

Reference Citation: Melzer, Sondra. (1992). A Mermaid's Song. WILLA, Volume I, 25.

by Radiya Rashid