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  • Writer's pictureRachel Goulston

Mermaids on the Moon

Rachel Goulston by Zelle Westfall

The first Black mermaid is centuries old

Before we were ripped from the waves

We were sirens

And nymphs

Amphibious even — to the untrained eye

That looked upon us with a quizzical gaze

When whiteness was landlocked

And our bodies

Skin slick with saltwater

Skimming and slicing and surfing

That deep blue

Sky turned upside down

Feet kicking up sand, swirling around like moon dust

That was freedom

I’ve felt it

From baby baths in the kitchen sink where

Gentle water poured from loving hands to

Wading into the ocean’s arms at daybreak

Desperate for that solace that can only come from

Feeling her weave sunlight into the coils of my hair

Letting her hold my head steady underwater

Till I come up moonside, alright

And those beads of sorrow roll off my body

Falling back to earth

Like shooting stars

I’ve felt it

At swim practice

When I wasn’t thinking

About the precision of my toes

Or the rhythm of my breath or

The power in my fingertips slamming straight through that touchpad finish line

I solved math problems in my head

And thought up stories spanning the multiverse

I was a pirate sailing the high seas

I was a diver exploring the darkest depths of the ocean floor I

discovered the sunken city of Atlantis and danced with the creatures

below I was the first Black mermaid, five hundred years old

And I swam all the way to the moon

That was freedom

I’ve felt it

I want it back

Edited by: Cecilia Innis

Issue 17 Credits

Photography: Zelle Westfall

Creative Direction: Payton Selby, Ava Emilione, Leslie Vargas, Zelle Westfall

Photography Assistants: Ruby Summer, Jewel Simpkins

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