I have lived as a careful wife
though my husband knows of
my one scarlet secret:
I might go back to sea,
wanderlust long ago sewn into
my indecent fish scales,
stitched with emeralds, lapus lazuli.
I am unable to let him go—
his passion, so earthly, fills me.
With jewels, waving sea grass hair,
I’m his rowdy German meerfrau,
bewitching like white sea foam,
my abalone mirror and harp,
He might come home weighed
down with drudgery, open
a heavy door to formica
and linoleum, or instead
barnacled treasure chests,
seaweed cascading out of windows,
marine music, whale and dulcimer.
Is it arousing for a fisherman,
my uncontrollable mutability?
My gestalt inexpressible
at village bratwurst barbecues,
but real enough past midnight
when he starts, bolt upright,
gasping for air, his legs tangled
in damp spiraling sheets,
his dreams full of shipwrecks.
from Aqua Curves (copyright 2005),
first published in the journal The Oregon Review
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