Sloan Asakura

Oyster shells can sing if they are empty

Mermaid Syndrome by George Grie

clams grip, lips tight with secrets
.       my father with a cleaver and mallet
.       .       would cut through the adductor of a pismo clam
.       .       .       i would press my hands to my ears
.       .       .       the sound of a door slamming could open one.

the pier knows crab traps better than anyone
.       the moss-wood with pretty ridges where the rope grinds
.       .       as we pull up the trap, dungeness crabs filling ice chests
.       .       .       i hold them from behind, their pincers
.       .       .       scramble to find me– a ghost they can only feel.

on the boat, ocean mist makes your eyes water
.       fog clouds the threshold between sea and sky and
.       .       you forget they are not the same, that far endless grey
.       .       .       you hook your fingers while unlipping the lingcod fish
.       .       .       its black marble eyes watching the reaper’s red-water hands

they used to walk out the door early, five fishing poles
.       dark against the blue street lights filtering through the window
.       .       and upon their return the sun had set, the gold lights on the patio
.       .       .       shimmered off the scales of the silver tuna, the blade running pretty
.       .       .       through the red belly, hand inside pulling those red strings tight, into the bowl

.       .       .       .       and i watched every tender gesture of the knife, the calluses on my father’s hands
.       .       .       .       his crooked fingers, i could swear they were open, bloody against that ocean teardrop.


About the writer:
Sloan Asakura is a poet and memoirist originally from Los Angeles, now braving the Pacific Northwest. They have been previously published in Jeopardy Magazine, Rigorous, The Mantle, and Rogue Agent. Asakura is a founder and editor of MAWTH. In their free time, they can be found cooking comfort food, gardening, and contemplating persimmons.

Image: Mermaid Syndrome by George Grie (1962- ). Oil on canvas. No size specified. By 2006. By free license.