murmuring rock

this paperweight home is a careful mix of light and dark.
she’s a lorelei, lives where
light would not have the audacity
to reach, but it
peers through the masthead-littered expanse anyway

stipples hesitantly

and she collects words
from these ships
instead of statues. when she glimpses
an ivory woman carved with
snakes in her hair,
she listens
from the slick mossy rocks
to the men who laugh their stories
over planks and sterns
and learns a tale
of love and retribution.

when she glimpses
a painting of
a glorified corpse on the waters
near a watercolor place called Camelot,
she listens and learns
rhymes of love
and loneliness.

and when she hears headstrong songs about
hurricane-armed women
who ride into fire
with the gods
before ragnarok
she learns of
the end of all things,
darkness in the cosmos
love and destruction. the lorelai
knows these things are
symbiotic. she finds a song
in the ashes of each
lets it incubate in her
vocal chords
and sail out with the fog.

the sailors
carry the stories and
bodies of these women-myths.
they listen to the
watery music
the lorelai lends
to the salty deck air,
they blame it for
the blue-coal desires they feel
and fuel
in the nests
of their reddened rib cages,
the violence swirling
in their minds
with homesickness
and hot-handed lust

and when the lorelai is netted
and the music stuck in
the shell of her throat like a pearl,
one of them tells her that her melodies
are dark, of blood.

she says,
“I only transpose what I hear.
this water is a mirror
and the stories you tell me
open like cold arms, filled with
jealousy and rippled mourning
and the kind of hatred that bites
and love is a concept that dapples through
like a knife in the flesh of an apple

but that doesn’t mean
I owe it to you.
the lorelei owe you nothing–
not even their song.”