On the Beach by Night - A Sestina
I was sitting in a quiet corner on the yacht Nirvana, sipping my wine and eavesdropping on the conversation between the small group of people close to the bar. One of the gentlemen had finished his story and was holding up his hand, sporting a gold ring with an odd shaped pearl. It wasn't the pearl, however, which made me gasp and jump up. They all turned and stared at me.
'I'm sorry', I said, 'but I've seen this gentleman before'.
Now that got their attention.
'Would you mind telling us where and when?', the bejewelled lady asked.
'It would be my pleasure', I answered. 'Here is what happened when I lived in Madagascar, where my dad was the French ambassador':
When I was foolish and young
I spent many a day on the beach.
If it was too hot I went to swim
And I dived in the water so blue.
Only a mermaid I did never see
Until that fateful night.
It was a velvety, tropical night –
Did I mention that I was young?
Above me a million stars I could see;
I lay on a towel on the beach.
The sky was a very dark blue;
The water invited me: come and swim.
I was dizzy, the stars appeared to swim
That was odd, as it was a clear night.
Then the sky turned black, not a hint of blue
And yet the night was still young.
I looked around me, up and down the beach
But there wasn't a soul to see.
I went to the water and what did I see?
A man, but he didn't swim.
A mermaid dragged him towards the beach
She must have felt safe under the cover of night.
Her hair was red and she looked very young,
And her eyes were green, not blue.
But her fishtail was blue
That much I could see,
And the man she held was young.
She let go – would he start to swim?
Would he be disoriented at night?
Would he make it to the beach?
I stood and waited on the beach
Looking into his face so blue.
He had nearly drowned that fateful night,
But a mermaid had saved him, you see.
She slapped him lightly, he started to swim
Towards the beach; and the night was still young.
I'm no longer young and don't live near a beach;
I can no longer swim in the ocean so blue,
But I still see the mermaid before my eyes, vanishing into the night.
The gentleman in question stared at me, open-mouthed. I was sure I wouldn't have to worry any more about who paid for my drinks until the end of the journey.