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Love Song


Love Song
by Jessica P. Wick

The mermaid says:
You’ve given me poetry, lines of it
scrawled in an ink as blue as the lips of the seventh son of a seventh son
after he’s been drowned and left beneath bladderwrack, kelp-clumped on the shore.
My brawnsome love, my gut-warmth,
(how I long to crack open your chest
scrape out the dense clot of muscle -- )
you’ve given me poetry,
pages of it which can’t touch
with the water without being marred;
words where the sea
is watered silk, is a glinting, light-spangled
veil of foam and silt, a sheen of jewels left in tribute
left as tiend to the shore. Oh, poetry,
where at least they pretend to know those crystal fields
Neptune’s kin farm below
and the crepuscular
movement of the cold currents, how the cold can press
down like the flat blade of a wintry knife
or spin out
as luminous glass hardens
on the wand’s point.
And your friends have given me poetry, too,
saying
this makes me think of you
this makes me think of you.

And what should I do but invite you, with words for the sea
-- oh, stop them -- climbing my throat
as a waterline rises under the big-bellied moon
-- invite you,
my sailor, my ship-builder, my lightning strike,
my shipwreck, invite you
to kiss the brine from my mouth
to kiss my mouth
as if it hasn’t been seven years since I last watched
the shadow plays put on by waves teething at the sand,
or reached out to touch, to slip beneath,
the glass-guiling surface --
Tell me,
Shipwreck, Sailor, Partner, have you noticed?
Has it changed? How the relucent sea will reflect
nothing but the passage of sun and storm?
Will whip itself into a froth should the wind trouble itself to lay hands --
has it changed? How air and sea transform?
What am I to do with all this poetry,
left tenderly or joyfully or proudly in my lap
like a body brought in by the cat,
and your friends saying,
this makes me think of you,
this makes me think of you?

I can open the door; I can recede,
I can be tidal. I can stay, put
these words neatly away. I am not
the sea. You are not
the sky. Or am I?
Are we?

* * *

Jessica P. Wick currently lives in an apartment called "The Belfry" in coastal Rhode Island. She writes in a study which faces a Victorian Strolling Park and is probably in want of a good cup of tea when you read this. Her work can be found in Liminality, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, and Mythic Delirium amongst others. She is a founding editor of Goblin Fruit and an independent bookseller.

Where do you get the ideas for your poems?

My first instinct is that I should say Melpomene; so many of my poems are sorrowful, or tragic, or possess an undercurrent of anger. The angry poems and many of the sad poems happen when news, personal or global, becomes something I want to wrest with my hands. But I don’t know that I should give in to my first instinct, because writing is a compulsion and a joy – and to have that joy I need an idea so one must appear. From where?

When I think about writing a poem I think about starting with a word I like or an idea I want to speak to and spinning sentences out from that point. I think of looking vaguely through a window at the moon or the trees waving in the park or listening to the crashing of the surf. The real answer is that ideas come from life; each poem grows because of something individual to that poem, but they all of their roots in me.

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