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nixe | by buffarches
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I have my own alchemy, thank you.


You plumb the depths for treasure,

dream of gold and dredge up lead,

and all the while, I am dreaming

into existence a slow transmutation

of skin into scale. It begins

at the fingertips which have

disappeared, slivers its way

past my throat, round my umbilicus -

but all its slimed and iridescent

glory has its tidemark at my hips:

the superstructure of pelvis, joints,

femoral and tibial muscles suspended

in a sleek aquatic metamorphosis.


You could call me siren - stretch

to grasp what you cannot hold. I

would leave a thin film of mucus

in your grip, smelling of fish -

a miraculous wet glistering,

and not surrender a scale. You'd

swab it off and curse, and utterly

miss the one truth I could give you:

life, sex, lust, the slop of liquid -

these are gold. You stop, take

one last brazen look at my breasts,

and swim for the surface. That gasp

of air is the sound of you surrendering

a host of riches. In your legends,

you will foist upon me mirrors

and combs, but I know my own sleekness

already; reflections are useless.


Go on, shipwrecked sailors - row

for shore. Imagine me your lover,

or your bride. Forget that you

will have to drown first. You

would have scaled me like a fish,

made bright fillets of my flesh,

let my guts spill in the tide -

but I keep my gills on the inside.


Poem by Giles Watson, 2013. Inspired by a picture by Buffarches.

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Taken on April 21, 2012