Second draft Anne: diving for dear life

17 Jan

“We are diving for dear life, when we could be diving for pearls”


I am a mermaid.


You wouldn’t know because I keep my tail hidden under my skirt.

I’ve learned to mask my fishy smell,

cut my hair a little shorter,

try not to comb it sitting on the bonnet of my car,

wear a bra instead of two scallop shells

(breasts can be so distracting).

I keep my pebble collection to a bare minimum

and pretend I covet shoes instead.


I’ve learned to hum softly under my breath,

to keep my song to myself.

My voice,

the things I say,

can give me away as something…            


It can draw a man to me,

but when he really sees me,

he can often change his mind.


I must be a mermaid

my obsession with the ocean

is more than a desire to breathe in the air

sometimes I find seaweed in my hair

and barnacles growing on my ribs

and besides,

every step I take

feels like a blade

cutting in.


You can’t say I haven’t tried to live a life

the ordinary way.

I thought everybody felt like this?

So I kept going.


I was born from the sea,

my skin cold to the touch

my voice lost on the wind

my breath drawing salt from the ocean

to flavour my tears.

So I am leaving land behind,

going back to where I came from.


I didn’t realise that once I’d put my head under water,

I would be compelled to dive,

to swim on the surface is not adventure.

I didn’t realise that water would distort my perception of distance,

and magnify the things around me.


I am diving.


Above me the sun makes a valiant attempt to follow,

hot-foot-hopping on the waves,

but where I’m going it can’t come

the spectrum cannot be

there will be no colour.


At 50 feet, red is invisible.

signature lipstick,

my sharp-cut-hair,

pomegranate seeds,

fear of the dark,

sleep-shot eyes,



I am diving.


At 200 feet orange is gone.

kicking through leaves

rug on the end of the bed,

steaming tea,

warmth of arms,

October mornings.


I am diving.


At 300 feet yellow green is almost gone.

sunlight through trees,

the lightness of thought,

softness of voices,

the healing of bruises,

driving the old Renault.


I am diving.


At 400 feet violet has completely eclipsed blue,

peeling paint,

the sky at midday,

small bird,

torn hopes,

my song.



I am diving.


At 500 feet, every colour gone but violet.

Morning mist and evening shadows,

broken promises,

wilted flowers,

old wounds,

cried out eyes,

comfort in darkness.


I am diving


At 800 feet

no colour.


One Response to “Second draft Anne: diving for dear life”

  1. mouthypoets January 18, 2014 at 12:00 am #

    Deep colour chromotography going on here. Love the layers. Sense of diving. Very like you…or very personal to you. Well written piece. (BeaBop)

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