As Us

A Space for Writers of the World

Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes – Poetry

And They Said Never Trust A Mermaid: Siren Song for Femmes

 

And they said never trust a mermaid

until you take her swimming, until you

wet her face clean, until you slip her under

a microscope between two slides and pluck out

the sand grain molecules of pride from her pores,

like obstinate hairs inhabiting the chin; never

trust a mermaid until you have de-scaled her

to count her fleshly poundage, her excess, until

you have wrenched the metal from her molars

to intercept the radio signals traveling to her ear.

 

They said never trust the red bed of roses painted

over her lips, beware the under-soil of thorns

sharpening her canines, beware the fish hunger

broiling in her belly. They said never trust the rim

of black penciled around her curious eyes, or the

sparkle of pearlescence dappling her lids, beware

the sorcery in her reports, the lightning

churning her saliva into sweet butter. They warned

of locking eyes with a mermaid: beware the siren

song and charcoal dusted eyelashes batting stars

at your pupils. Beware the bruja underneath the

mask, wretched trickery sparkling blue.

 

O Mermaids,

Our exhibitions are for our own mapping.

We will conduct the palpitations of streamers, fingers,

we will beckon the trumpet parade and shooting stars,

we will glimmer the glossy bright of fuschia

and venerate our bodies’ deviations, every, all.

 

Let them not make of our oceans

a ruly inquisition: We have been hanged

for our excesses before. Let them adore us

or usher out. Tell them there is no paragon:

only a vast mirage suspended

over the wide and sundried sea.

Let them learn to bask in

the glory of our clean and blushless

cheek, our crooked pillow smiles, let them

love our before, before we portrait our

skin with the carapace of beetles. Let them

write symphonies to the sleep in our morning

eyes, crisp with the light of new-day

possibility. Let them tangle in the matted

nest of our wayward manes, and delight in

every wicked knot. Tell them the charcoal

dust on our lashes sharpens our night vision;

the tight clutch of sequins polishes our boom;

every fold of our thick bellies harbors

our most precious and golden secrets.

 

Let them see the soil in our teeth, and learn

to relish every small nick

from the pointedness of thorns,

pearly fangs shimmering,

dripping roses.

 

O Mermaids, gorgeous selcouth monsters

of the briny deep,

 

let them marvel or perish:

 

we will not hang.

 

 


heidired - Version 2Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes is Queer, Feminist, mixed-race, second generation Colombian immigrant, writer, scholar, artist, and political activist. Her performance, creative writing, and photography have been seen or are forthcoming in places such as San Francisco’s SomArts, Galería de la Raza, the Mission Arts and Performance Project, the SICK Collective, Wilde, The Progressive, Yellow Medicine Review, Descant, Write Bloody’s We Will Be Shelter and others. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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Issue 3February 14th, 2014
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