The clam grew depraved in the dark
toe of a rubber boot,
draped in fashion seaweed.
I was a mermaid martyr
who lusted after those boots.
Then winter came.
The black pond froze
its black-eyed octopi,
and I formed my own stomach fat
into a gourmet doughnut. I could do
that now. I had a lead foot,
a merman’s cough, and a dump truck
full of sea salt. I crashed into a levee
as a bitter old starlet,
my fishtail stuffed into my mouth.
But every time I got close to the reset
button, it floated farther out to sea
on a raft of gasoline.
I had banked on returning
to childhood as a totaled car,
but they only wanted redheads.
“Portrait of a Sea Woman” originally appeared in Big Blue Whale (TLR, Summer 2016)