The Mermaid Tank

by Stephen Knight

Beneath my weight, the duckboards bow.
    Two buckets, slopping water, weigh me down.
A cold wind howls around the cages now,
    While rain sweeps in – across the town –
Again; and while our rheumy-eyed,
    Arthritic monsters fall asleep
        Or vegetate
             I kneel beside
The Songstress of The Deep
    And wait.

All afternoon, the punters pass
    Her tank in single file; because it’s dark
Inside, they press their faces to the glass.
    I breathe, at night, on every mark.
Behind my cloth, the water churns
    And curls around our fat dugong
        And when it clears
             (Like smoke) she turns
Away, and any song
    I hear

Is ‘just the wind’ or ‘my mistake’
    Outside, discarded handbills catch their wings
On tents or in the mud while, in their wake,
    Paper cups, tickets stubs and things
The rain dismantles every night
    Turn cart-wheels in the foreign air
        Before they throng
             The sky, too light
To settle anywhere
    For long.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

More about the Poetry Society…

Tweets @PoetrySociety

34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition "I once read most of a book about trout by a man who really revered trout." Read a Q & A with poet Stephen Sexton bit.ly/NPC40SextonQA 20th March, Kings Place bit.ly/npc40anniversa…

test Twitter Media - 34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

"I once read most of a book about trout by a man who really revered trout."
Read a Q & A with poet Stephen Sexton https://t.co/cEUUdIoX7P

20th March, Kings Place https://t.co/CAyQRnXQtA https://t.co/VriySvuQTX
test Twitter Media - 34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

"I once read most of a book about trout by a man who really revered trout."
Read a Q & A with poet Stephen Sexton https://t.co/cEUUdIoX7P

20th March, Kings Place https://t.co/CAyQRnXQtA https://t.co/VriySvuQTX

We're proud to support the invaluable work of the Prison Reform Trust with our short collection of poems, generously donated by prison survivors. If you're able to grab a copy or support this, it would be really appreciated. amzn.to/2SUhrFE @PoetrySociety @Poetry_Daily Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Since 'Mad Girl's Love Song' was in @PoetrySociety's #classiclovepoemcup I've had constant Villanelle earworms and tbh I'm not hating it Retweeted by The Poetry Society

@PoetrySociety ee pipped at the post - but 'I carry your heart' is still a damn fine poem > vimeo.com/62305015 #ClassicLovePoemCup Retweeted by The Poetry Society

On 100th anniversary of GCHQ - Read new poems by young poets inspired by code-breaking #GCHQ100 ypn.poetrysociety.org.uk/workshop/bletc…

34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition Watch the film of Liz Berry's National Poetry Competition poem 'Birmingham Roller' here: lizberrypoetry.co.uk 20th March, Kings Place bit.ly/npc40anniversa…

test Twitter Media - 34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

Watch the film of Liz Berry's National Poetry Competition poem 'Birmingham Roller' here: https://t.co/6fFUQOFvBW

20th March, Kings Place https://t.co/CAyQRnXQtA https://t.co/HQiUpz3SNh
test Twitter Media - 34 days to go until the 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition 

Watch the film of Liz Berry's National Poetry Competition poem 'Birmingham Roller' here: https://t.co/6fFUQOFvBW

20th March, Kings Place https://t.co/CAyQRnXQtA https://t.co/HQiUpz3SNh