Entry - MAG Poetry Prize 2010


by Ruth Stacey

Mermaids drown in fresh water,
the lack of brine causing them to gum apart 
like paper dolls.

Yet the fish women persist through the brackish waters, 
searching for the hot-blooded ape-men
who walk on land.

Mermaids yearn for dry, incandescent embraces.
So unlike solitary spawning, watched but not touched 
by stagnant, dank mermen.

Fresh water is soft when compared to harsh salt.
It is caressing the pearly skinned, persuading
them to ignore the bitter sting.

Nervous flutter, the elegant fingers flare
protesting disintegration.

Silver tails softly dissolve, 
billows of carefully combed hair drift away.

Whispers of scales float back to the sea,

returning to the mermen who 

see them and know 

they are finished.

Added: 21.04.2010

Judges' comments on this poem


A beautifully written, extraordinarily imaginative narrative.


I found this an incredibly evocative poem. Stagnant mermen are such a clear image.