The Mermaid and Seven Staves

I want to shave my head and go back to my sisters

but we are all turning into seafoam.

From the terrace of his bedroom, I can see each one

along the banks, building up like palaces.

One sister, with only half her face still solid, watches another

cutting off her frothing fingers to save herself.

All this because I could not cut her throat—

that other woman who is also me.

She can lie in his arms at night and stare blankly in the dark,

she can calm his worries with rose water and honeycomb.

I cannot. I am changeable as the ocean,

indecisive, but in love nonetheless.

Rana Tahir is a poet and author living in Portland, OR. Her work has appeared in publications such as Poetry Online, Palette Poetry, and Quarterly West among others. She earned her MFA from Pacific University and is a Kundiman Fellow and member of RAWI. Her second Choose Your Own Adventure Book based on the show Stranger Things is forthcoming in April 2023.