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The Mermaid in the Hospital

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She awoke   
to find her fishtail   
clean gone   
but in the bed with her   
were two long, cold thingammies.   
You'd have thought they were tangles of kelp   
or collops of ham.

"They're no doubt   
taking the piss,   
it being New Year's Eve.   
Half the staff legless   
with drink   
and the other half   
playing pranks.   
Still, this is taking it   
a bit far."
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.

But here's the thing   
she still doesn't get—
why she tumbled out after them   
arse-over-tip...
How she was connected   
to those two thingammies   
and how they were connected   
to her.

It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
"You have one leg attached to you there   
and another one underneath that.   
One leg, two legs...
A-one and a-two...
Now you have to learn   
what they can do."

In the long months   
that followed,   
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell,
her instep arches.


Source: Poetry (April 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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The Mermaid in the Hospital

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