Etiquette for the Postmodern World
A. K. Drees
My goat merman has
eyes like coin slits in golden spheres,
beard matted with spit and flecks of grass—
after the withers, the pelt
slicks into curved plates,
shimmering down to a cloven tail.
His teeth are sharp, dangling from the mouth,
out of proportion as afterthoughts.
In the water, his front legs dangle boneless,
gliding in time with the flapping tail.
On land, he drags the scaly portions behind
leaving deep grooves between hoof prints in the sand.
At a party where everyone is dressed in feathers,
I wore the skin of a leopard with brass buttons
fit tightly into red silk frogs.
The woman in vulture feathers, coarse and dark,
a prosthetic nose sharpened like a beak
was the hostess. I had forgotten a gift.
So I offered her anything.
She laid her champagne flute against the side of her jaw:
the meregoat to be put
in the pond beside the willow
with the hook hung over the water
for swinging carcasses.
Now he lives in the pool at the bottom of the garden
and snatches raw chickens off the end of a hook,
leaping into the air, wrenching his dinner away
in a single shake of his head.
We have built theater-style seating;
so no one misses a trick.