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A Mermaid After Chemotherapy

Linda Yeaton

Your pearls worn siren smooth,

no longer luminous, unlike

your grey green skin:

my mother - still beautiful.


I start gathering shells

as you lie dying,

selecting only the best.


For the altar bowls of oysters,

tinged with grey lustre;

strewn clam shells and bouquets

of periwinkles - soft bodies, now gone,

maybe drowned in the stomach of the sea

or buried in the sand.


I bring you the roots of sea holly

adorned by silver leaves to soothe,

maybe stem the tempest in your belly

before the carcinoma swells

your fish-like tissue and your body

flips in on itself one last time.


From Fabric No 1 (Feb 2001)