Here are three poems I wrote ten years ago. Anyone who has read the Undine trilogy will recognise that these poems were precursors to the novel (read - I totally plagarised myself). The three fishes from the first poem appear in Undine. The second poem is thematically very similar (especially in tying The Tempest and Little Mermaid together), plus I write quite a bit about The Little Mermaid in Drift (it's one of my favourite parts of the trilogy). And I describe the magic as a sea of lost things in Breathe - I think I use that whole phrase - civilisations submerged, moth wings. I haven't looked at these for years, and it's only now that I'm realising how much I plundered them as I was writing.
It was a night like any other night, stuck between days like an
afterthought, something to do between suns. It arrived sometime
after dusk and left before morning. There was a particularly brilliant
moon and an aeroplane falling out of the sky. Ships navigated their
way by the stars, invisible rocks tore open their huge jagged hulls.
Weather kept itself mysterious, unobservable. It was a night that
smelt coastal, a gypsy night, she came wearing an old shawl,
oceans and skies gathered about her.
Deadly she wound herself in black berries and white flowers. She found
me sleeping, and thumped me hard on the chest. She left three silvery
fishes on my doorstep. I woke up gasping for air.
At dawn she blushed and left.
The Little Mermaid
I lived with fish and drowning girls in blue,
Submerged and bound in seaweed coloured lace,
And salt and brine formed crystals on my face.
I surfaced on a winter afternoon
And found I had to learn to look at you.
Like Miranda I left this island place,
O brave new world, and somersaulted space;
I arched my back and split my tail in two.
I forced myself to walk on tortured legs
And sexed my sexless body with a knife,
Untangled algae then unwound, unthread
My self from sea and sisters into life.
I lost my voice to make myself your wife,
It was that vision: You thrown back, half dead.
Sea of Lost Things
So I write, I have lost you.
Again and again,
I have lost you.
In that sea of lost things
Where you turned yourself
Upside down and drowned,
Like a photograph
Or a small moon.
There are other things down there,
Small bright coins
And gods and children.
All lost things. Whole buildings
Moth wings, the groaning
Wooden spaces of torn ships.
She stands in a lonely kitchen
Her heart opens and closes.
She contemplates three silver fish.
On the windowsill is a photograph,
Behind it, a small moon.
It is not enough, she writes.
I have lost you.