Little Mermaid

I was foam and I was surf,
a wind-borne sigh,
a washing wave upon the earth,
a sea-child, I.
I lost my fishy smell for him,
my tail and scales,
I gave up my right to swim
and sing with whales.
In my mouth a withered root
of witch-torn tongue
which I had to prostitute –
I got it wrong.
I never should have trusted
a mortal man
to love me for myself, accepted
as I am.
I watch him run his fingers
through her hair;
the scent of his skin lingers
Love and happiness are nought
but empty dreams
that have left me with no mouth
and I must scream.

Kim M. Russell, 21st April 2017

The Little Mermaid Stave 4

Image found on Pinterest

My response to Imaginary Garden with Real Toads ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream’

Magaly says that she’s not exactly sure how old she was the first time she read ‘I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream’, by Harlan Ellison. But she will never forget the way in which her hand reached for her mouth, how aware she became of the gift that is her free tongue, how the title made her cringe and shudder.

Today is the first time I have heard of this title, so I come to Magaly’s prompt with no preconceptions. She asks us to imagine being full of ideas and words and feelings and wants and urges and needs… and not being able to communicate them. To picture ourselves living in a world where we are not allowed to speak. She says that for the purpose of this prompt, ‘not being allowed to speak’ refers to being kept from speaking our minds without fear of punishment and invites us to create a new poem inspired by the title of Ellison’s short story, to explore the feelings that might lurk in a mind that must scream, but has no mouth. It brought to my mind Hans Christian Andersen’s story of the Little Mermaid.


22 thoughts on “Little Mermaid

  1. This is amazing and so beautiful. I love how you set it up as a mermaid who was betrayed by a mortal man. I can completely relate to the emotions here, which you express in such beautiful words

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Freya! How are you keeping? I’ve been so busy trying to keep up with NaPoWriMo and all the prompts, I haven’t had a chance to visit your sites for a read. I’ll be over when things are a little quieter. xx


  2. I love this dark and delicious re-telling of Little Mermaid (it was a favorite back in the day) especially; “In my mouth a withered root of witch-torn tongue which I had to prostitute – I got it wrong” took my breath away!❤️ Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love a deliciously crafted retelling, especially one that completely surprises me. The surprise comes from the fact that I’ve read “The Little Mermaid” and the title for the prompt so many times, but have never put them together. And goodness knows that they fit so well–we can’t trust our selves to anyone (or anything) that doesn’t have a heart big enough to love us as we are and as much as they love themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. So strong. I love this:
    “In my mouth a withered root
    of witch-torn tongue”

    I have always loved the story (not necessarily the Disney romance version). Who among us hasn’t given up her voice, in order to fit in to another world?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Susie.When I was a child, all I could see was a fairy story. Now I see layers of tragedy, which I hope to explore further, maybe in a short story that brings the mermaid’s tale up to date.


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