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Friday, February 15, 2013

New version of "The mermaid swims away"

The Mermaid, by Howard Pyle


by John MacBeath Watkins

The mermaid swims away
supple in the river of moonlight
near  the dawning of the day.
The sailor decides to sit tight
while his dreams drown in a coffee cup
and gulls will soon cry out in flight.
While smoke from the breakfast stove curls up
so she sinks from the coming morning bright

The darkness is retreating and his watch is nearly done
and her love burns off like fog in the harsh light of the day
for she cannot bear the beating of the sun.
Like a dream he cannot keep in mind the mermaid swims away
to the cool, dark place from whence the mermaids come.

She said the sea had salt from tears
of mermaids he could never understand
he said the sea salt's blood, my dear
from sailors whose bones whiten in the sand.
And the moon moves slow and heavily
as it sinks down to the sea
with dreams all slow and heavenly
of the day that's yet to be.

"You'll flee the sun's hot, fearful eye
and dive to the darkest deep,"
said he, "and I'll lay out my socks to dry
and stumble off to sleep."

The darkness is retreating and his watch is nearly done
and her love burns off like fog in the harsh light of the day
for she cannot bear the beating of the sun.
Like a dream he cannot keep in mind the mermaid swims away
to the cool, dark place from whence the mermaids come.

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