I’ve been writing since I was eight, despite being told that I shouldn’t. Writing revealed too much. This is why I tell my students they should never be afraid to put the truth on the page. I’m a community college English professor, who alternately loves and despairs of her students. I’ve written lots of different things—newspaper columns, academic stuff, poems (including two chapbooks and a forthcoming full-length collection) and a couple of mystery novels, one of which will be published this spring by Barking Rain Press. I have the very great pleasure of serving the town of Norwalk, Connecticut, as its poet laureate. At this very moment, my dog is sniffing through my trash for a draft of something to chew on. My website: www.laurelpeterson.com
THE PROBLEM WITH BEING A MERMAID
is that you are neither this, nor that,
neither fish nor woman,
with no home that feels like home.
What happens to the girl who loves crystal
but is given mud and twigs?
Who wants to raise horses,
play dress-up in the theatre,
live on the African savannah
or in the Colorado high desert
or in Paris above a café,
but is told the price—
her body, the money, the dream—
is too high?
Even well-meaning fathers,
fathers who don’t comment
on their daughter’s mascara, grades,
choice of high school theatre roles,
even those fathers can tangle
their daughter’s feet in seaweed
that tugs her into the drowning,
a world of salty half-breaths and cold dark,
condemning her to watery half-light,
a world only partially lived, seaweed tendrils
snaking her ankles like weighted ropes,
threading her cloud-like hair,
lashing her luminescent white throat.
© 2017 Laurel Peterson
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