A Mermaid Vacations in Flathead Lake

I skipped off the dock

like a flat-iron rock flung into the bay,

a grand jeté on the waves.

There was no splash.

There wasn’t even a splish.

I slipped into watery pantyhose,

the slick silver shark of Bigfork, Montana.

Under my cutting gills, entombed in my air-womb,

a terrible oxygen crept to my fingernails,

which sliced through the snake-green slime

that consummated with waterlogged wood.

I deflated my balloon body down the ladder

until my spider hair canoodled the sand,

and I shimmied under the dock’s bottom

like a crab on a bad day.

Freshwater champagne bubbles raced me

to the air pocket under the marina.

My tongue split the surface,

and a childhood fear dripped down my tail

like the water drops from the wet feet

that marched above my elastic-wrapped head.

Sticking my fingers through whistle-gray planks,

sinking their algae-curled tips into blush-baked flesh,

I grew butter-knife fins and penny scales

and never walked again