Song Without a Voice

I relinquished my voice for the love of a human,
swished my silver-scaled tail in brine one last time
and, on the celebratory blast of his siren,
he winched me on board like a fish on a line.

With mortal feet I walked on gilded splinters,
felt grains of sand between my dainty toes,
soothed my stub of tongue with gentle showers,
swapped coral reefs for daffodil and rose.

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.

I ache for the fish that swim beneath the ocean,
the playful seals, the porpoises and dolphins.
Love and happiness are but an empty dream;
without a voice to sing my song, I must scream.

Kim M. Russell, 23rd June 2020

File:John William Waterhouse A Mermaid.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse – image found on Wikimedia Commons

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Sounding the Siren

De is hosting this week’s Poetics with my kind of prompt. It’s mermaids, sirens and selkies! She has given us some mythological background and shared lines from Kathleen Valentine, William Butler Yeats, Julian del Casal, T.S. Eliot and Shakespeare.

De wants us to accompany her to the sea and talk of tails, scales and salty women who woo sailors into sleep.

49 thoughts on “Song Without a Voice

  1. Beautiful illustration. Love your take on this….the giving up of the mermaid’s existence for a human love….only to learn that too much was given up in the bargain and she craves the sea.
    LOVED this line and the sound of it “swished my silver-scaled tail in brine one last time” when I read it aloud. The title is melancholic as it stands….and then when you find out why has a song with no voice….she remembers the song…but a human voice cannot share it or verbalize it. And most especially to all her seafaring friends she left behind.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lill. I’ve been entranced by mermaid stories ever since I was a child and read Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Little Mermaid, which is nothing like the Disney version. I was so pleased to see the statue when we visited Copenhagen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a heavy price to pay Kim to lose one’s voice. I so admire the descriptions of the tail, and creatures that swim underneath. This stance is perfect with its rhythm & end rhymes.

    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.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Incredible piece, full of colorful details, dreams and sadness. We should all be careful what we wish for.The stanza Grace picked out is poetic masterworks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jade. When I first rad Hans Christian Andersen’s story of The Little Mermaid, I was distraught that she had to lose her voice to become human, and the thought that it was so painful for her to walk on her human legs.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I cant tell you how much I love this! Especially “I was foam and I was surf, a wind-borne sigh,
    a washing wave upon the earth, a sea-child, I.” In the years I lived away from the sea, I felt the selkie’s ache…………a wonderful poem!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was lucky with the rhyming in this one, De, as I already had the third and fourth stanzas. I wanted the first two to be different to capture the change in her situation, the pain of being human, and her longing for her past life.

      Like

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