With combs carved from porpoise jaws,
they rake their seaweed tangles out
and coif their hair like centrefolds
at a poolside party on the rocks.
The waves froth like champagne;
the cliffs are mansionesque.
It’s all cocaine and late night orgies,
a certain moral depthlessness.
One spikes a branch of coral
in a bun upon her crown
and holds an ivory mirror up
to look at the result.
Another drags a salvaged rasp
across her fingernails
and flicks the water with her fins
as if to test its warmth.
The last one wields a bottleneck,
still wedged with shipwrecked scroll,
to pry an oyster shell apart
or mark her wrists with gills.
From Gift Horse (2011) by Mark Callanan.