When the Music Stops

He sent her looking
for stolen horses,
bade her not return
until the thieves were
found and caught, and
made to bleed their sad
apologies into his waves.
He sent her searching,
his trident held in hands
with knuckles white as
fresh sea foam, his beard
a kraken in the frothing,
angry surf, but did not
think to search her eyes.
He did not think to ask her
if she found his horses fair,
or if she felt he hoarded them
too closely, keeping them
where only he, and those
merfolk he favored most,
might see their grace.
And when she paused,
all trembling, near the
beach-side carousel,
to watch the snow-maned
ponies dancing to a music
nothing like the sea,
he was not there to see her tears.
He did not hear the
sorrow in her siren voice
as each proud mount was
summoned home, nor notice
when she slit her wrists
to spill pale blood on
fragments of a bright brass ring.

—Marcie Lynn Tentchoff