By the time you were thirty
we had all slipped from you,
the three of us wet and fringed with hair:
unruly locks your shell-comb smoothed.
We clung like possums and
cried after you morning and night
despite your rocking arms,
your jar of songs.
We were the daily discomforts:
bottles bobbing in pots,
our baby breath sticky as postage stamps
against your skin.
Our furious sucking on rubber
now that we couldn't have you.
And how it must have been when the dark
had finally threaded our mouths shut
and sleep was a precarious rock on a cliff's edge.
For fifteen, twenty minutes you'd slip
into that warm bath,
let the water jewel your flesh
until the first cry, then
rise up in your sequins of bubbles.
And stand in the doorway,
familiar mermaid, listening.
From Hometown (1992) by Laura Lush.