The Ugly Mermaid by Ottilie Ratcliff

A sad siren sitting on the rocks
Singing for sailors; screaming over the seagulls.
Matted blonde hair stained green and knotted
With seaweed; encrusted with barnacles and salt.
The skin of her bare breasts so smooth it’s almost
Slimy. So pale she is translucent, almost lifeless.
Like sun bleached driftwood. Her lips cracked,
Her fingernails ragged, her eyes the colour of oily sand.
Her scale-worn tail a shade of sickly jade.
An ugly maiden mutant of the cruel sea.

A distant boat. Bearded men eat ship’s biscuits
The stamp of boots on deck, shouting from the mast
At last, she opens her mouth to call to them
Bearing rows of broken brown teeth.
Craggy bearded faces leaning over starboard.
They cast a black net of rigging over the side
Entangle her in it and drag her aboard.
She lays strangled on the splintered wooden boards
And looks into jeering faces, hard, mocking eyes
They poke her with nets, with broom handles
They tell her that she reeks of rotten fish.
They roar with laughter when she feebly flips her tail
Then throw her with a splash back into the cold sea.
She drags herself to her rock, her hands scratched,
Her tears raining on a crab that scuttles sideways
Away from her, this ungainly creature, this beast.



Artwork by Lucinda Wherrett

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1 Response to The Ugly Mermaid by Ottilie Ratcliff

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