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Cecil Morris

Mermaid on the Rocks


she will not remember

this morning tomorrow

she will not remember

in her Ambien daze

she became a mermaid

her legs fused

her flopping on tile floor

in hall out of water

and crying

her eyes closed

her tangled hair

spreading like kelp

around her head

a presence over her

hovering

hands peel back her skin

without pain

and prize her one leg into two

then roll skin back up her legs

without pain

a voice from above

lift your hips now

she has been caught

transformed again

and she cries more

her naked shoulders

shuddering

against cold tile

her pale breasts

trembling

her head rolling

side to side

on its bed of kelp

tears dropping

from closed eyes

into the rocks

she will not remember

this tomorrow



after that happened to her


after that she became the sound of doors


clunking closed down the hall, a hollow


final distant click-clunk outside the class,


loud but far, something cutting off escape


and sealing air inside to divide her


from all the not her elsewhere in the school



after that she became the sandstone shade


semi gloss painted on the classroom walls


and down the halls, the faintest not at all


brown but not quite white, the color that


disappeared behind announcements and posters,


the color that watched other lives pass by



after that she changed from puppy to cat—


to watcher from window sill, to lurker,


to feline presence that could shrink itself


to box or bag or basket, to close safe


spaces where her stillness could curl itself


and observe the re-runs of daily life



after that she transformed to subsonic


super speed hummingbird's iridescent


flight that darts and disappears in trees,


that retreats in limb shadow and leaf rustle,


that hides itself in sudden shifts, in small


bursts of dusky feathers there then gone



after that she became a stone and sank


right to the bottom, right to the shadows,


where light came as yellowish wavering


ripples that slid across her then let her


disappear again, a rock, silent


and motionless, alone in deep water




Abandon in the Library: A Fantasia


The day the salesman came to demonstrate


advances in cataloging software


and sturdiness of library furniture,


I discovered how my colleague loved tattoos


between hemline and neck, from cuff to cuff,


a female analog to Bradbury’s illustrated man,


and all of hers on that day a single


breathless, athletic story in beautiful,


eye-opening performance, one extended O


of exhilaration, and, before I knew


what came over me, I too was nude,


my birthmark revealed in undulant writhing


glory and on my lips the salty thrill


of Kama Sutra exertions and that tome


we kept behind the circulation desk


was out and on display by special request.


We moved together mindfully through poses


like flexible, ardent yoga acolytes,


like acrobats in tantric harmony.


We shushed no one and heard no shushings,


no inhibition’s censorship, no fear


of judgment’s hissing sibilation the day


my love of library science renewed itself


and glowed, a newly translated Dead Sea scroll,


an old truth discovered anew again,


and all the sacred yearnings of the spirit


were embodied most fully and truly


and everywhere was the Library of Congress


and adequate funding was had by all.




Somewhere between Two Bad Places


On the eve of spring our daughter


slipped into darkness one last time


and pulled after her the rosebuds


and last low rain clouds and their rain.


She sighed a thin, exhausted breath


and went, too, a winter weak, tired,


bereft and finally done with gloom,


with frost and fear and windy slice.


She swallowed all the shades of pink


from hint of blush to sunset streak.


She folded all her dreams (and ours)


like childhood clothes she had outgrown


and could not wear. We watched her pack


those dreams (and some unrealistic hopes)


in dark green garbage bags for us


to haul to St. Vincent de Paul’s


donation center when she went.


Now, when we see someone like our


daughter dressed, she flickers somewhere


between jealousy and regret.


 

Cecil Morris retired after 37 years of teaching high school English, and now he tries writing himself what he spent so many years teaching others to understand and (he hopes) to enjoy. He has been trying to learn the names of all the birds that visit the yard he shares with his patient partner, the mother of their children. He has poems appearing or forthcoming in The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, Rust + Moth, The Sugar House Review, Willawaw Journal, and elsewhere.





and elsewhere.


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