- Mermaid Stops by True Value to Pick Up a Screwdriver
I don’t drift the aisles anymore. It’s easier just to ask. Once, in Sherwin-Williams, I knocked over a display of paint chips with my tail, Ebb Tide & Seafoam & Starfish & Clamshell swirling eddies on the concrete floor as the big store fan pulsed its waves from over by the caulking display. I’d turned. That was all it took. The guys up front were all elbow jab & guffaw, pointing & saying, “Fish out of water,” but you just try it, negotiating three dimensions at once. I’m as soft-shelled out of water as in, but I’m trying not to be so out of my depth. When I ask the boy at the hardware counter where I might find the orange juice & vodka, he gives that oh-so-familiar squint, looking at me like I’m from some other element, which is true, I suppose, if you don’t know enough to inhabit your world in the same way it inhabits you. “What I need is a drink,” I say to him & at last comes the glimmer in his eyes that tells me he gets my meaning now & he takes off down the hall, returning [End Page 155] with a couple of bottles of Aquafina that he plunks down between us, saying sorry, it’s the best he can do & how he always thought he’d turn out to be an architect or maybe a chef but there was this girl & now the kid & it’s not such a bad thing, is it, that he can tell me anything about flat washers & O rings I’d ever need to know? He wraps his thumb & forefinger around a cap, twisting it so elegantly that I’m easing through the salt reefs again, that fluid slippage through bouldered dark, my hips bumping flanks with the leathery sharks & the cryptic cuttlefish & when the seal on the bottle of water breaks, it stops us both for just a moment, the exhalation, that hiss of something trapped escaping. [End Page 156]
nancy carol moody lives in Eugene, Oregon, and is the author of Photograph With Girls. Her poems have appeared in The Journal, Salamander, The Los Angeles Review, and Nimrod.