Oxford's oldest student newspaper

Independent since 1920

The Mermaid

The mermaid is dying, and no one cares.
She does not belong here, here in the suburbs
Where council-mandated hedges block her from the sea.
She does not belong where houses must fit an aesthetic.
She does not belong where those in mansions spit on the poor,
Where they would not deign to spit on her, desperate for water.

The mermaid is drying out, and no one cares.
Her kelp-like hair turns to straw,
Her skin, now cold and dry, shrivels like a prune,
Her tail flip-flops next to a manicured garden,
Her gills gasp.
She loses control of her limbs; she is close to giving up.

The mermaid is gasping, and no one cares.
Stuck here in the suburbs
Surrounded by people who can’t understand what she is.
A man walks past, and scoffs at her vulnerability.
A kind woman pours the last of her Voss water on the mermaid’s gills.
Everyone else walks past, avoiding eye contact.

The mermaid is on death’s door, and no one cares.
Her tail has stopped convulsing, now.
Her gills have stopped screaming.
Her last thoughts are of her brethren,
All too far away to save her.
Her last word is a strangled sigh.

The mermaid is dead, and now they care.
They pretend her dried-out hair was beautiful,
Pretend to ignore how the air pressure mangled her face.
Eventually, they say, “she was only a fish – look at her fins and scales,”
And the corpse of the mermaid is taken to the fishmonger,
Destined to be this week’s produce.

Check out our other content

Most Popular Articles