A Child Comes Out as a Merman to His Parents
When right after sunset darkness landed on our living room
like a butterfly on an open flower,
mother didn’t bother to switch on the lights
and kept watching the telly, laid on our sofa.
The telly blasting SINNERS! SINNERS!
While standing by the threshold to the kitchen,
I announced – my voice all jelly – I am a merman now!
and mother looked at me for a second, nodded
and tucked her lips again into a blanket of silence.
The morning after I found a leaflet next to my pillow,
whose content I could not decipher, with pictures as bright
as sun-filled bubbles of righteousness. Mother said
if I wanted to learn how to swim, they’d pay for lessons.
Dad in the car vexed me with lectures about being
only thirteen and knowing nothing, being full of nothing.
You shall not lie with a creature of the sea, for they have no soul
and only by marrying a creature of land, may they acquire one
a statement from mother, scriptures I believe, hugely misquoted.
I started taking baths before sleep and went to bed so wet I’d soak the sheets.
Then started sleeping in the bathtub all night.
I joined my legs tight with an elastic band,
enjoyed every cramp, every cold shiver.
The next day screams and thumps out of the bathroom door
woke me up, as I delayed everyone’s morning routine.
Over breakfast, mother insisted, once more, I was clueless.
I said I’d found a new god, one more gentle and tender,
one that allowed for slipperiness, for mellowness
Mother shook her head, dad shouted to go to my room, called me an abomination.
I soon refused to eat their food, asked mother to cook seaweeds
She tried to feed me steamed spinach instead, but I could tell the difference.
In the end they decided to leave me alone, a shadow sewing
button-eyes on ghost dolls. No one took a bath in the evening.
They started noticing less and less my presence lurking in the back.
Once, they watched a stand-up show on the telly, had their chests
shake with so much laughter, they couldn’t hear a thing.
Once the water in my bathtub was all cherry, I tried to stop
the flower of my wrists from blossoming.