The Nameless Mermaid’s Revenge

For you I sacrificed, I endured.

I secured you from the bitter snatches of the sea.

For you the sea-witch sliced me to silence.


In the sea I wait, unseen, obscured

by rugged gulls and rocks I watch.

For you I sacrificed, I endured.


At a house built of human bones my sentence

simmered from her croaking voice.

Her bosom bled black as she sliced me to silence.


In return she gave me legs – poor

pins that wobble and prickle

with pain without cure.

Unsteady and unsure, I

remind myself it is for you

I sacrifice, for you I endure

this razor-sharp violence.


I say nothing.

For you she sliced me to silence.

I say nothing when you marry.

How could I?

A tongueless wail

my siren song.


I am forced to watch

as you wed and fuck another.

Did you presume submission

from my silence? Did you suppose

I would kiss the sticky head

of bride and groom,

that I would bless

your damp marriage bed

as you doze, and hurl myself

to the sea, dash myself to foam?

This is not me.

This is not my ending.


I take the knife of the sea-witch.

I drive it through your flesh.

I wake her with the flush of your lost blood.

I stand over you.

I let your last sight be the rotting stump

of my tongue.

I hurl her to the foam instead of me.

I wait until you leave me for the last time.

I cast the knife back to the sea:

the blood bubbles and fades.

I leave the scent of flowers

behind and return

down. To the deepest place of all.


with a last glance at the Prince from eyes half-dimmed in death she hurled herself from the ship into the sea . . .’


©  Hayley Shields 2009