Poem: Dream of the Unambitious Mermaid

My hopeless crush once asked me
“What do you dream of becoming?”
I had to pause to think it over.
I do a lot of dreaming; which,
I pondered, was my favorite?
“A mermaid in a deserted lake,”
I answered and was taken aback
when he burst out laughing.
“You can’t become a mermaid!”
he said, as if I didn’t know that.
But what is the point of dreaming
about the possible? That’s more like
planning, isn’t it? “Oh, you mean
what do I plan on becoming,”
I said. I had no idea. I reckoned
I’d tend bar till I saved up enough
to travel, then travel till I ran
out of money, then tend bar…
and my plan might have worked, too,
had I not fallen in love. Anyway,
after that, my crush did not believe
I wanted him or anyone.
He spun my mermaid wish
into a siren’s tale, where I’d lure
unwary boys into my waters
and drown them, fashion their bones
into furnishings for my underwater
lair. But I do not crave a bone
settee or taboret or chandelier,
however elegant. I just want to swim
in the moonlight filtering down
through lily pads and duck weed—
swim and sing and comb my long,
long and ever-tangled hair.

Cleveland is a poet and mail artist from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She is a contributing editor for Poetry Writers in the Schools and hosts the poetry series for the New Bridge Group artists’ collective. Her work has appeared in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Möbius Magazine, and online in New Purlieu Review.

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