The Siren’s Song
A siren sinks her fishtail into the water and opens her throat to song.
The song has no lyrics,
the siren cannot hold pen or paper in wet fingers
or keep words in her mind for long
so she sings a nameless and ever changing tune, night after night.
She sits alone on the rocks, night after night.
Sirens know the word ship the same way they know the word target.
They know the word target in their bones,
Songs flying straight like arrows to pierce the hearts of their next meal
Sirens know the word target a shadow on the waves.
She sits alone at sea, casting shadows on the waves.
Sirens are always hungry.
They learn beauty from their own reflections,
long for jewels stolen off ships,
slip the rings off of uncomplaining sailors and admire the glint in sun or moonlight,
sirens have thin faces and do not dream when they sleep.
She swims alone in the ocean.
She has no name but its roaring waves.
Privately, she weeps over each skeleton on the ocean floor.
She remembers each song,
the look on those new faces when they realized they were tricked
knows unsheathed swords and gunshot
and the taste of blood under her own sharp teeth,
and before that,
she remembers the brief conversation.
The sailor’s eyes,
new, and warm, and frustratingly dazed,
and wonders what life would be like if she weren’t so hungry.
A Fairytale Ending
1. The girl is fast asleep from some fairy’s bargain,
In truth, she would not have wished it on anyone,
no one is asleep around her.
2. A new chef, 50 years later, is looking for a knife lost in some dark nook of the castle.
When he finds her,
asleep and alone and beautiful,
and not another servant knows her name,
he vows to resign.
3. The spiteful fairy is standing next to a bonfire of spinning wheels.
Her sisters watch from behind a corner
in all their good age and innocent cupcake dresses
They cannot unspeak what they’ve seen.
4. A new mother stands proudly over a cradle fit for royalty.
Every fairy wishes good over the crown,
May she be pretty,
May she obey her parents,
May she do all that for sixteen years.
5. There is a kiss, a hero.
It does not save the girl her lost time.
It does not save her the longing for her own childhood,
It does not save her her parents’ funerals.
She is rescued from sleep and ushered into marriage,
white and clear and the right size for a body that hasn’t aged a day after sixteen,
it is a good fit.
6. Years after waking,
the girl misses the dreams she used to have.
Full of magic,
Full of good
impossible things not part of her waking world,
“After a century asleep,
she is insane enough to miss that.”
Everyone left agrees.
Greer Nakadegawa-Lee is 14 years old and attends Claremont Middle School. She was a featured reader at the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and has performed at Bay Area Generations and the Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival. Besides writing, she likes to draw in her spare time. If you asked her what she explores in her poetry, she might not be able to tell you exactly, but she tries to write every day. She hopes to publish a collection of her own work someday.
Click here for a note on Greer and Maya from their teacher, Sophie Dahlin.