Oh, I once was a mermaid, with skin like white gold,
and a siren’s clear call floating up from the sea—
more beauty, young man, than your vision could hold,
when I was a mermaid. But now I’ve grown old.
You’ll find my skin wrinkled, encrusted and gray,
my bright silken hair scrubbed away by the brine.
All stubbled with whiskers, my lips are like clay,
and that’s what you see, when you see me today.
My movements are awkward, ungainly, and slow,
though once I cavorted and skimmed through the waves.
Now I’m swollen and bulging, above and below,
and that’s all there is to me, as far as you know.
I’ll sing no more songs now, for captain or crew,
so cast off and sail your gazes away.
I know very well what I look like to you,
but what does that matter? I know what is true.