a siren whispered in my ear one night

convinced me to connect the constellations on your back
behind seaweed curtains and underneath sea glass lanterns.
the sea called me, with the promise of soft skin and cerulean eyes.
our home was a house on stilts, overlooking the
copper water and sharp sand. careful, you said as you 
showed me where to place my feet to avoid glass-infested blood.

the coral infestation struck like lightning. it found the
crevices in our bath grout, the rough surfaces it could grow
on. like a weed, purple crust formed on our copper bedposts.
you liked the way it tickled your painted toenails.

crabs scuttled across the linoleum floor, beady eyes
watching us. you said they were friends, old lovers,
remnants of a life you have left behind, you promised.
it was true that you tasted more of strawberries than
saltwater, but lips could be deceiving. the tide started
rising closer and closer to the foundation of our
home, summer storms riling from the east.

when the waves crashed on shore,
the picture frame on our mahogany 
nightstand shook, glass nearly cracking
from the change in air pressure. the floorboards
trembled like the dead leaves at the end of
autumn: a crackling cacophony that keeps us
awake at night. we watched through the
ink-stained windows as the storm rolled in,

fat raindrop after fat raindrop slid across the moving
sands, and the water swelled so large it seemed pregnant.
perhaps in the thick of it, i could have heard you,
softly singing, voice cracked to oblivion:

oh mother, take me home.

you wrapped yourself in the comforter laced with
iris petals and rose thorns, slid the silk across your
freckled shoulders as you pressed your forehead against
the glass pane, tracing runes with a deliberate finger 
in the condensation of your own creation.

the water roared with renewed fervor. towards our
home, its fingers extended pointing to the bedroom where your clamshell
love cached itself in the space between the wooden walls.

Oh take me home.

© 2020 by Ashley Bao

About the Author

By Ashley Bao

Ashley Bao is a Chinese-Canadian-American high school junior. She spends her time writing and dreaming, mostly about cats. Her poetry and short fiction has appeared in Liminality, Strange Horizons, Cast of Wonders, and elsewhere.