Painting by Anne Bachelier

Your once-silken voice will desert you, your legs
will make every step on land a torture.
There will come a time when you miss
the seaweed and seals, your old ways,
your old body. Now fit for neither land
nor sea, your sacrifice long in the past now.
Comb your hair, which keeps growing,
though you’ve lost your prince.
You know the time is coming
where you’ll pay the price
for your short time in the sun.
You sit outside the doors of the castle,
and no one recognizes you as cursed,
or as former mermaid or magical creature at all.
You are just another broken human now.
If they looked closely, maybe they’d see
the sea foam in your eyes. But probably
they’ll swish past you on sturdy strong feet without notice.


Poem From Issue #43 Summer 2018
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Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She returns to the Floating World, unexplained Fevers, and The robot Scientist’s Daughter. Visit her online at