Fox Henry Frazier: Three Mermaid Poems from The Future

The Future: Fox Henry Frazier

Silver-Eyed Lilínabalén and Adam of the Red Soil Shared the First Pull & Fall of Earthly Promise

By land, I saw his core transformed
in daily toil   russet-smudged    ordained mortal

scorch     iron  stains  & aches,
known, he said, to man

alone. We soaked in evening glow, orange orb dipping
past horizon. Lowering home. Night would rinse him

clean, my adamantine
pearl        we floated      the gloaming

border where water osculates
earth     my every silver

layer open to his gaze   feeling even
then his unborn sons growing

up to pen my fluid
hematite glow as the very

first blasphemy. What knowledge
drilled itself inside my psyche as a worm

invades the oyster’s shell & I
held it as the mollusk keeps

& coats the criminal
in sequent layers

of iridescent nacre. But I
melted in his grip—let myself

become the fluid
silver that he struck in heat, hammered

to what he could smelt & own & none
of this hurt as you might

divine: I was filigree
beneath his fingers, his face

spangled in my sterling
splatter. I laughed,

my body
calescent

star memory. Brighter
than any known pain.

Silver-Eyed Lilínabalén Learns That Adam’s Father Has Prohibited Her Body

Before surface-dwellers had time to construct their manjasang and vampyr.    Before even

wearh             transgressor    was what he called me      criminal        blood-smeared          unclean          

woman                        who has lost her way.                         My kind        understands killing

as lavish         human extravagance        a violence irrelevant            to survival.               

My kind:         what his sons          would elect to fracture     into daywalker

siren                   succubus.                                But this is what men do for     

the women they love. This is what men do for the                     they

This is what men do

mark themselves by sun & will & flint & measure what

world we might have shared      by first one finger & then another together curling the hand

to thickened ball of bone.         He was the first of his kind

or he was not.                No matter.              He would make all of his sons in his own image.

Silver-Eyed Lilínabalén Places a Curse Upon Adam in Retribution

Constellation of insects undulating like a blue-
ringed octopus shall embed themselves in your

scalp & vent their miserable poison. Your forehead
will peel like seaweed left in the sun. Eyelids flake

away, nasal flesh raised in desperate boils.
Tears turn to ash and gravel in your ducts.

Water      shall pass your lips as
silt    the freshest spring taste

like the death of your mother.          
And you shall swallow. Spit in your mouth

turn rancid citrus on your tongue, hard
palate erupt in pustules, throat swell swathed

in slime           and you shall swallow.     
Your chest pull inward, brackish marsh consuming

itself again & again. Your entrails
pickle in your belly from the spirits you

distill & drink: fruits from the labor
for which your hide will sizzle, cauterize

daily in the sun. Your man-made
renderings will course calcine

through you        like a demon: eradicate
mind & turn    body savage, pass

like thick urine against open sores.
The bread for which you toil will

taste as if drenched in moon-
time blood from the woman you once called witch as you tried to

outlaw her body, worm
that you are in the mouth

of God. And you
shall swallow

that blood-soaked yeast, know it
as your only unpolluted fluid. And your body

shall ruin that as well. Rivers infest your skin
with algae and infection. You: a living

gangrene, your groin growing verdant
your dank rot repel even the most estrus-

driven succubus from beneath your favorite
garden tree. Your skin rise like sordid apple

blossoms    purple-grey tumors foresting
your useless thighs. Your knees will host

fire-ant colonies until they crack
bloodless, your shins shatter backwards,

bone & blood through tender calf skin.
Scorpions of your red earth set upon your

tendons until you hallucinate your halluces
hacked from you, one hot strand of muscle

at a time shredded through. Bamboo slivers
razor between finger skin and nail, bloodied

digits then dipped in the cruelest salt
any ocean has to offer. And the ocean—ah, my

ocean—shall claim every person you have
ever loved. Until you gouge your insect-infested

scalp from its skull, weeping, and walk
into my depths, drop yourself breathless

where my body is sovereign, your final night
tossing alone among storm and foam, torn by orca

which your sons after you will
come to write as killer whales

Fox Henry Frazier is a poet and essayist whose books include Weeping in the Tropical Moonlit Night Because Nobody’s Told Her (Yes Poetry, 2022), Raven King (Yes Poetry, 2021), and The Hydromantic Histories (Bright Hill Press, 2015). Fox holds an MFA from Columbia University and a PhD from the University of Southern California, where she was also a Provost’s Fellow. She created and co-manages the indie press Agape Editions, the literary & arts magazine Alice Says Go Fuck Yourself, and the Favorite Poems reading series. She lives in upstate NY with her daughter, her dogs, her gardens, and her ghosts.

Image: australiangeographic.com.au

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