Mermaids, Peacocks
by Laura Sobbott Ross



Weekie Wachee Springs, Florida

Stumbling across such supernatural beauty—
someone thought of mermaids,
imagined them frolicking in the clear,
cold water spun from limestone caverns,
the fontanel of an ancient aquifer.
Sixty years later, they’re still
recruiting local girls to divvy up
their lungs between air hoses,
to slide their young bodies through
the waistband of a glittery tube
trimmed in tail fins gone diaphanous
with tumbled currents, the synchronized
ballet of arc and roll. Mermaids
eating apples underwater, sipping soda,
singing and dancing for tourists
from Toledo or Topeka with zinc
slathered on their noses. Cameras poised
against the glass diorama curtained
in bubbles, where the honey-thick current
drifts the mermaids’ hair into clouds,
slows the movement of their limbs
to an otherworldly grace. As if on cue,
curious schools of fish ribbon through.
Outside the old theater, we find peacocks
dragging their own iridescent tails though
crisp hedges, flicking open the stanchions
of their feathers on a whim of pheromone
and teal. A multitude of jaded eyes
rolling, if they could, at our gathered awe,
while the mermaids breaking through
the surface of the spring, haul their spandex tails
over the stone brim to await the next show,
and breath in this same still, humid air.





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