quote ni paul

She was always deep.
But now she seems to be talking up to us
from a bottomless well.

The Fifty Minute Mermaid - The Mermaid’s Gift of Prophecy

Written originally in Irish by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill

and translated by Paul Muldoon

Sometimes when a mermaid’s daughter
is in the bathroom
cleaning her teeth with a thick brush
and baking soda
she has the sense the room is filling up
with water

It starts at her feet and ankles
and slides further and further up
over her thighs and hips and waist
in no time
it’s up to her oxters.
she bends down to pick up
handtowels and washcloths and all such things
as are sodden with it.
they all look like seaweed—
like those long strands of kelp that used to be called
‘mermaid-hair’ or ‘foxtail’.
Just as suddenly the water recedes
and in no time
the room is completely dry again

Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill,

The fifty minute mermaid - A Recovered Memory of Water

translated by Paul Muldoon