Thursday, August 12, 2010

At least she's all mermaid. (Friday's Sunday's Poem/Hot Actress 59)

The Straightforward Mermaid.
by Matthea Harvey

The straightforward mermaid starts every sentence with “Look . . . ” This comes from being raised in a sea full of hooks. She wants to get points 1, 2, and 3 across, doesn’t want to disappear like a river into the ocean. When she’s feeling despairing, she goes to eddies at the mouth of the river and tries to comb the water apart with her fingers. The straightforward mermaid has already said to five sailors, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work,” before sinking like a sullen stone. She’s supposed to teach Rock Impersonation to the younger mermaids, but every beach field trip devolves into them trying to find shells to match their tail scales. They really love braiding. “Look,” says the straightforward mermaid. “Your high ponytails make you look like fountains, not rocks.” Sometimes she feels like a third gender—preferring primary colors to pastels, the radio to singing. At least she’s all mermaid: never gets tired of swimming, hates the thought of socks.

This poem appeared first in The New Yorker.

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About the poem: I've often declared that one day or another, I was going to take a stand and say that poems must rhyme, because there are plenty of times when I think that rhyming is the only thing that separates poetry from prose. I've never actually put my foot down, poetry-wise, and done so, because I always come across a poem that makes me think "I like that even though it doesn't rhyme."

Then, in the latest New Yorker, I came across The Straightforward Mermaid, which was under Poetry in that magazine, but which, if it wasn't under poetry, would be just a super-short story; it's not even weirdly formatted like most poets do nowadays to seem cool, moving words to the right-hand side of the page for no artistic reason or capitalizing every third letter to be pseudoeccentric.

It's just a paragraph.

And yet, I liked it.

About the Actress: It's Rachel McAdams, who I thought of because of my post mentioning that Sweetie claims there's a sex scene in The Notebook, and then looked her up, and she's 32, and nobody's ever told me she's had plastic surgery, so she's in.

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