Christine Rhein

Mermaid Camp

“If you thought mermaids were just the lively imaginings of lonely sailors,
think again—and come to Weeki Wachee Springs… you will be exposed
to the daily responsibilities of being a mermaid…”

Yes, you’ll flip! Flip out too, transformed into a mer-chick, mer-queen,
your total aqua self. And we’re not just talking glitter, sequins,
the same old scallop shell bra, sunken treasure chest pearls, yesterday’s
hair extensions too glued to wave a single fisherman, seaman, pirate
to your shore. You’ll kick things off with only the tops in tails,
a custom-made monofin molding your flukish silhouette in slick
and brilliant neoprene, weighty, lifelike silicone, or the ever-alluring
budget latex in splashy shades of coral, seal, evening lagoon.

We’ll cover every part of your training, too, with heads-up advice
for each breathtaking plunge into oh-so-bubbly-kiss lessons
and the basic moves of mermaid ballet before letting you undulate,
undulate, undulate! By the time you’re certified, there’ll be no stopping
beach-creature-you. Think mermaid parades, conventions, balls,
the pageant in Vegas you’ll be bound to win with your taped-together legs,
your flapping fin held upright, expanding your fannage and the stretch
of your name—Marina, Waverly, Serena, a Vixie nixie. Nothing fishy!

You’ll learn to suck up your un-nymphishlike belly, hide all grimace
when you drag around or twist as if half-wedged to another world,
giggling with mythic mermagic! It’s crystal clear—we’re ready for you
to dive into oceans of love, to send us payment and your signed-over
awareness of the risks—water wrinkles, sunburn, turtle bites, the men
who’ll carry you from pedestals to rocks, and feeling their strength
giving way, might drop you rather quickly into the sand or the pool,
into the role you’ll feel you were born for—a siren in the deep.

Christine Rhein

Christine Rhein is the author of Wild Flight, winner of the Walt McDonald Poetry Prize (Texas Tech University Press). Her poems have appeared in journals including The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review, and have been selected for Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Best New Poets. A former automotive engineer, she lives in Brighton, Michigan (