by Mari Ness
The human poet says that we of the sea have no souls. That all we are is air and salt, water and wind, cold and dark. That souls belong only to those who sing and dance on land. That when we die we turn into sea foam, to drift upon the waves, and perhaps one day land on human shores, to dry up beneath the sun.
He says that only human love can give us immortal souls.
He says this as my sister sings, as he places his lips against her quivering neck.
I could tell him of our youngest sister, who begged a sea-witch for mortal breath and legs, who danced before a human prince, and wept as that prince chose another. I could tell him of the choice she made: to die instead of slicing his throat, to die instead of sucking his blood, the blood that would have returned her to the sea and fetched his soul to the sea, to drift upon the waves.
I could tell him of how we wept and wept, to lose our sister to the air. Of how even now we send our cries soaring to that palace by the sea, to ensure that he and his bride sleep uneasily, though they have been buried more than one hundred years. If they have souls, we will not let them rest.