I Woke up This Morning as a Mermaid

by Simone Fraser


I woke up this morning as a mermaid

Silver scales rubbing the scratchy university-issue bed sheets

It had happened before,

Slipping under water in familiar a chipped porcelain bath tub

Or the pool around the corner from my childhood home

I’d wait it out surrounded in bubbles or friendship

Marvel at the way I could glide through the water

Perfectly at home, chlorinated and content.


But Oxford isn’t made for people with tails.

It asks for satin dresses, not scales,

Summers spent in the Caribbean sunshine not on Bridlington beach

Shivering in the waves because there is nothing else to do

It asks you to surrender the idiosyncrasy of folklores

No-one here has heard of the river at the bottom of the road

They don’t feed the ducks here, silvered limbs dangling in the water,

They are at home in underground stations, and reality


I tend to keep my tail bound here

It slips out when I’m drunk

And I taste seawater on my lips along with the sharp A in bath,

And no-one quite understands why I still have it

Along with the words like nowt and summat tucked into the folds of my jeans

Most days I don’t even want to be a mermaid,

And I google surgeries and magical potions, as if Ursula will appear

But I’m not content to lose my voice – what else can remind me of my seas?


In a couple of months, I will return home

Dive head first into the ocean of the North

And remove the bindings, return to the waves of familiarity

But the deep is colder now, and I begin to shiver a few days in

Missing my legs, missing the land of Pret a Manger and people who think like me

And come January I will fold up my tail and leap head first

Onto land. Pack up my tail, words like betray pushed to the back of my head

And once again, I will exist, suspended, but smiling.


The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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