A tail can be manufactured
Neoprene, dragon skin silicone, urethane,
flukes customised &
sold to finfolk
lost@sea. Staccato tweets,
eyespots as strange as olives.
At work the dorsal fin separates
easily from the mould.
The mertailor’s apprentice eats.
Knife and fork
reveal flesh as pink as corned beef.
Afterwards, he skims the stock.
(His soup smells good in the pot.)
On weekends she’s a wish in a tank
will do small fry,
Are you real?
What do you eat?
(Seaweed salad, kelp on the rocks)
Do you know Ariel?
(Yes, but she’s busy with Prince Eric.)
Fingerlings tap her scales,
tease chlorine through the plastic teeth of her comb
lift each rubbery heel fin
as though looking for…
mermaids don’t have knees!
The glacier begins to pulse_ _ _
The mermaids pause, profiles
still as popsicles,
At Bikini Atoll,
in the socket of an
A shoal of triggerfish
radiate around the edge
of the r f.
sinks to the seabed.
Sand rises in its wake
Merman tail is fragile,
mythic fluke, an iridescent shade of blue.
He curls his arms around it. He waits.
A merman unboxes only once.
The shell cracks.
Tape rises from its equator.
This is a dangerous time.
Sharks. Eels. A stingray’s barbed tail.
The merman lines his hashtag with sharp objects:
shells. Emojis. Jokes. What lies at the bottom of the sea and shakes?
A nervous wreck.
A tanker spills glutinous black into Oceania
Scientists are ferried on to scene
One reaches his rubber-glove into
long hair with the sheen of oil
beneath it, the stunned face of a mermaid
her eyes still open, a mauve
rainbow caught in each pupil.
In a desert hotel
the Roswell Alien
glugs & sighs,
a hand-out is handed out,
a sequin pried off like a scab.
Inside the monofin her toes drip,
At night, underneath the galaxy of sand
the deep dull echo of water.
The professional mer works swiftly,
her tail emits a scent
that causes blindness.
A profile of jellyfish rise to the surface,
She can smell the fear of the Tiger Sharks
as they stripe closer,
keeping time with her fluke,
she aims her GoPro
with the zeal of a pole vaulter.
The shoot is followed by pilot fish
Off hook, the mermaids exit
rocked by merwranglers.
cotton on skin is a delicacy.
Dry hands, how strange, how exotic!
The wranglers smell of the women they have loved
and the things they have eaten.
The wranglers bring towels, perfumes.
The mermaids catch a hint of fabric softener and flowers.
Their minds unpeel, bloom
until the perfume is spilt and absorbed by the ocean,
If a wrangler plunges into the sea
eventually he will begin to shiver
and if he goes down too deep
if the mermaid forgets that he is not a fish
and drags him under, he will go quite white & luminous.
His body will become limp in his clothes
the cotton will billow around him
& he will float
Megan Dunn lives in Wellington, New Zealand where she Skypes mermaids and writes about contemporary art. Her first book Tinderbox was published by Galley Beggar Press, UK, on 9 November 2017. Tinderbox is about her attempt to rewrite Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451 from the point of view of the female characters. (She failed.) She is currently working on a new non-fiction book about the rise of professional mermaids and the mermaid as a symbol in the 21st Century.