Singing Her Body Oceanic

Singing Her Body Oceanic
Penny Stirling


supralittoral zone (seagulls circle earlobes)
From her nape mermaids tease me
every workday morning on the ferry.
Atop rocks hidden below her neckline
they comb their hair and singing recline.
Soundless siren notes breach her skin
to dance and then submerge. My chin
I often find harbouring sweat-blurred
sepia quavers somehow transferred.

photic zone (dolphins cavort across breasts)
To my pillow every night they follow,
luring me dream-diving below her collar
into skin-sea shallows. We bask in
button-gap light, smother my legs with ink
until a tail has coalesced scale-tight, hunt
through armpit-kelp whalesong-heartbeat,
and sing to gooseflesh schools of abyss-deep’s
desire for bright bones and once-sunlit ships.
I rouse and rinse off the salt and stains,
the nightly scales, but the weight remains.

mesopelagic zone (cuttlefish crowd navel)
“Your mermaids want me,” finally I say.
We alight the ferry together that day.
Chest to knees she’s awash with tattoos
of sea life I watch ’til climax intrudes:
wrasse, seahorses, orcas hounding seals,
jellyfish-tangled sunfish, turtles and eels.
Past her stomach in waters twilight
lanternfish watch squid and whale fight.
I try to kiss her but hands push my head;
her mermaids bite me ink and red
and trawl me down her body lick by lick
to drown me in stygian depths oceanic.

bathyal zone (anglers prowl pubic hair)
Her waves smother as I suck her swell.
My wreck she consumes, transmutes whole.
I surface ink-merged, skin-immersed,
singing the deep’s barely-slaked thirst
and rise with sisters-tailed from her trench,
seeking more flotsam to tease and entrance.


Penny Stirling lives in Western Australia surrounded by empty notebooks. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in Interfictions, Strange Horizons, Lackington’s, Goblin Fruit, Heiresses of Russ 2014, and others.

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