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.