Skip to content
It’s not too late to support our 2020 WWB Virtual Gala fundraiser. Click to donate!
from the August 2013 issue

Mermaid in Earnest

the cruelest part was that as beautiful
as much as her features flaunted
a genetic pedigree of bonafide aristocracy
and her hands deftly wielded
needlework and roast chickens
and her tresses attested
to tortoiseshell combs and splendid grooming
the fascination would always remain
with the mermaid’s tail

i won’t repeat the story
after andersen & co
we all know the rough path
first the impossible desire
for the prince (doll in formal attire)
then awareness
of powerful witchcraft

in exchange she gives something up
her voice, her elastic hymen
her club med membership card

it is a difficult process

feminine bipeds are fooling themselves
attributing to high heels
the pain more properly ascribed to haughtiness
seeing as
the mermaid treads on knives when she uses her feet

and who takes her seriously?
the ending would be better if
instead of the elephant that dances
in her head when she sees the prince
and the 36 fingers
that sprout when she offers her hand

she regained her tail
and never shaved again

© Angélica Freitas. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Hilary Kaplan. All rights reserved.

Read more from the August 2013 issue
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.