sometimes think of innocence;
of a red-haired girl
on the back of a whale.
The mermaid you imagine
finally sheds the sheath of her father,
and rides over several
dead navies, inspired.
Even the girls in the bathhouse
bending in the orange light cannot compare,
as when she unlimbers that heavy braid
and walks out of the water.
Promise that never again
will harm be done a woman, least of all
this one, who turns away from you
and is dancing in a crowd,
so loved, and so attended. You
are invisible. Your leg stirs somewhere
in its perfect life of sleep, and might be thrown across
an enemy, as gently as a wife.