Six years ago, for period of a few months, I wrote a new poem almost every day. They all had to do with the ocean, mermaids, sirens, mythology and fantasy. It was a pretty fantastic time for me and I’ve never been able to replicate it. Sometimes it feels like I can barely string a stanza together.

Since it has been six years, Fin, which is a retelling of the little mermaid story, has required some revisions.


A mermaid slipped from the sea,

and shed her fins for feet.

Her hair dripped of waters free,

her lips of waters sweet.


She stood alone upon the shore,

where her toes first touched the sand,

and looked upon the sea no more,

to only face the land.


No one she saw upon the dunes,

no soul there was in sight,

until with song of common tunes,

came swaying lantern light.


Sailor strong appeared behind,

the shining golden beams,

and stopped in awe when he did find,

a maid of fairest dreams.


Like falling star, the lantern went

to blaze upon the beach.

Both maid and sailor quickly bent,

and tried, the flame, to reach.


Stricken by the sight of her,

and soft touch of her hand,

the sailor was no longer sure

his feet were still on land.


But swift she stood, cold and fair,

and handed back the light.

Away she went and left him there,

for someplace out of sight.


The sailor’s heart began to break,

as he watched her leave that place.

His tears did mingle in the wake,

of the ocean’s darkened face.


To city bright she walked with hope,

to find herself a king,

and catch his heart with golden rope,

and have his golden ring.


For she was lady of the sea,

a proud one of her race,

a mermaid, once fair and free,

but now with human face.


But no king from castle did she meet,

who offered up his heart.

Then fins she wanted, not the feet,

that had born her to this part.


But cross the land, like wraith she went,

and walked on rugged street,

until her beauty was all but spent,

and blood was on her feet.


Her bones, she felt their frailty

as she looked again for shore,

to catch a glimpse of the sea,

And hear the mighty roar.


But mermaid fair had lost her fin,

and on the land was locked,

surrounded by the earthly din,

and human words that mocked.


Her tears like pearls hit the ground

and rolled upon the stone.

But her quiet sobs made no sound,

as she lay there all alone.


‘Till morning light, with drunken beam,

caressed her shining hair

and she awoke to such a dream,

of sailor standing there.


The flame of love within his eyes,

was all that she could see,

while in his arms she found the skies,

and wildness of the sea.


He bore her back to ocean shore,

and laid her there to rest,

but she chose to have the sea no more,

for she loved his arms the best.


© Joy Knowles


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