A Liar's Prophecy

"You will never be anything,"
my mother told me often,
"Least of all beautiful.
Least of all loved."

She also told me that I never listen,
though I do.
I listen, but I keep my own counsel as to what I think about the things I hear.

Years later, I slipped into sleep
like bare feet off a smooth shoreside stone,
and slowly sank.
My hair was long, so long,
that it trailed in the currents
around the coasts of South America,
and I held starfish in my hands
which sang, impossibly and in languages beyond interpreting.

I stretched myself naked on the backs of orcas,
and across the arms of pink anemones,
but it wasn't until near dawn
when true beauty found me and settled itself in my humble flesh.

Still drifting, I stretched my legs out together,
long and sleek like a mermaid's tail;
I felt the rise and fall of the waters I belong to,
and those currents
those warm, containing currents
were just your arms
circling in sleep, around me.

for A Word With Laurie at Real Toads. We were to write something "phantasmagoric." 


Hannah said…
Oooo...this is silken in your beautifully worded descriptions, Shay!! This is JUST the kind of beauty that no one in the world can take away! Of course I love the stanza about the orca and the language of the starfish...delightful!
TexWisGirl said…
phantasmagoric fits!
Anonymous said…

two in one day? stop it right now! do you hear me? keep your own counsel on this, sweetie ~ go Back TO WORK!!! how many more weeks? shit...

Sherry Blue Sky said…
Oh, so wonderful. The starfish, "which sang, impossibly and in languages beyond interpreting".......the anemones......you took me back to the sea. I love it that near dawn, "true beauty found me"........but you know what? True beauty already lives - in you!
Jinksy said…
This has to be the most brilliant fusing of image, words and prompt that I have ever seen! *smiles*
Mary said…
What a beautiful phantasmagoric write. I loved the last stanza and can feel the rocking motion~
Even mothers make mistakes. As did yours. This is dreamily lovely.
Sioux Roslawski said…
I agree. If you're still on vacation, take on a temporary position at The Dollar Store (that would surely give you lots to write about, but not allow you enough time--perhaps--to write more than one poem per day).

You make the rest of us look like slackers.

I had to tear my eyes away from the water moving against the rock in the photo so I could read your poem, and then I had to tear my thoughts away from your words so I could continue on with MY day.

Seriously. Your maximum is ONE per day. ;)
Anonymous said…
see! Sioux has a fabulous idea! get a temporary job at The Dollar Store!

ONE poem per day! don't make us come over there!

Laurie Kolp said…
One of my favorites of yours, Shay... thanks for taking part.
hedgewitch said…
A mesmeric ebb and flow in this, from harsh to healing. Excellent work with the metaphor, too. I especially like the orcas and pink anemones.
Helen said…
I'm drowning ... in a delicious way.
G-Man said…
(Opens the door, looks around, enters quickly, then slams the door behind him)
Whew, Oh Hi Shay, nice poem...
I know, THREE visits in one week!
Don't get the wrong idea now, I'm not gonna start coming around and causing trouble. The truth is, I was just amazed to find a post that BM (and I DO love the guy) didn't comment first on....
Carry On.
Mixi said…
From a beginning that stung, moving to the tang of the sea, the majesty of orcas, the whisperings of starfish, coral anemones and water - flowing, soothing, accepting of all.... absolutely beautiful.
Anonymous said…
I have been in heaven here, being blessed with one new poem, sometimes more, every single day. In fact, I come back several times a day to reread your most recent poems. My words of commentary may fall short or silent, but know that you are loved and that I treasure every word you are kind enough to breathe. Everything you write, I will read and soakingly accept into my still-beating soul.
GoddessChhavi said…
That is lovely! I've often had dreams where my body parts have drifted away like tides or winds or clouds..you've described it mesmerizingly!
Susan said…
And not only in the worlds of phantasms, you may stretch out beautiful and be so loved!
Susie Clevenger said…
To begin with such harsh words to then end it beauty...what a wonderful way life has in proving we are more than what is said to us....love it Shae!!
Lolamouse said…
The beginning of this made me tear up, Shay. The images are so beautiful. It was like floating in the warm sea.
Anonymous said…
Your image is mesmerizing.

This is heartbreaking: "She also told me that I never listen,
though I do." Mother will wish you "didn't listen" one day, when she realizes her hateful words have turned your heart away from her.

In disappearing from a world where your mother and her cruelty exist, you travel through your imagination into the mythological realm of the ocean and its magic. You yourself become a myth.

All the warmth and swirling wetness makes me feel the sensuality you're describing without you actually having to say anything overtly sexual. It's deeply embedded, but it rises on the waves of this gorgeous dream.

This speaks to me of being broken by your mother, then embraced and comforted by your lover---your mother's replacement, in some ways.

You have expressed such wisdom here: "I keep my own counsel as to what I think about the things I hear"

These sections are beautiful:

"Years later, I slipped into sleep
like bare feet off a smooth shoreside stone,
and slowly sank."

"I held starfish in my hands
which sang, impossibly and in languages beyond interpreting."

"true beauty found me and settled itself in my humble flesh"

I see some restraint in this: "Still drifting, I stretched my legs out together" Of course, there's the mermaid imagery. But it could also be that you are giving yourself spiritually and emotionally but not completely in a physical sense.

"I felt the rise and fall of the waters I belong to" As if the tide is your heartbeat.

"circling in sleep, around me" Certainly you mean encircling or wrapping you up, making you feel safe and protected. But the word "circling" also makes me think of being circled by animals before they devour you, as well as the fact that a circle represents eternity. There are also double meanings in "currents" and "stretched." Maybe you stretch yourself mentally/spiritually when you are with her. And you've repeated "currents," so it's clearly important. I like the interplay of words, the notion that what is current is becoming what will be eternal.
Maude Lynn said…
This becomes so ethereal and beautiful. Wow.