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A Poem I Do Not Hate: The Mermaid in the Hospital

She awoke  
to find her fishtail  
clean gone  
but in the bed with her  
were two long, cold thingammies.  
You'd have thought they were tangles of kelp  
or collops of ham.

"They're no doubt  
taking the piss,  
it being New Year's Eve.  
Half the staff legless  
with drink  
and the other half  
playing pranks.  
Still, this is taking it  
a bit far."
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.

But here's the thing  
she still doesn't get—
why she tumbled out after them  
How she was connected  
to those two thingammies  
and how they were connected  
to her.

It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
"You have one leg attached to you there  
and another one underneath that.  
One leg, two legs...
A-one and a-two...
Now you have to learn  
what they can do."

In the long months  
that followed,  
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell,
her instep arches.

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Translator's Note

The Fifty Minute Mermaid

April 8, 2011 | Permalink