Nell Farrell

Finding The Mermaids Playing With Knives

Naked in the middle of the kitchen floor
every fish from the freezer spread out and turned to flab,
scarves knotted around their heads and wrists,
each of them holding a kitchen knife.

My first thought was an awful one, wrong-footed
by the wave of noise and smells
and fears I’d never acknowledged.

But they were laughing,
slopping and splashing the fish with water,
petting them and singing;

clinking their knives together,
not cutting anything, just slicing the air,
dipping and crossing blades
in a dance so intricate, so sinuous, so tight
I wanted to rush into the street,
invite the world to come and see
just what my girls could do.

Nell Farrell was born and grew up in Eastwood, Notts, but though a native east midlander, she’s now lived in Sheffield longer than anywhere else. Her second pamphlet A Drink With Camus After The Match was published by Smith/Doorstop (Poetry Business) last year. She’s just heard that she’s won third prize in the Yorkshire Open Poetry Competition. She works in social work education and as a creative writing tutor. This poem is from a sequence she’s working on about a woman who has adopted three teenage girls who are mermaids.


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