penny meyers
We were mermaids
by Jennifer Hernandez

that summer, my cousin and I,
dressed in bikinis before we cared
if our bellies were sticking out,
knees were skinned,
noses were freckled,
or whether we had boobs.

In the lake all day
from late May’s icy gasp
through August’s sweet relief,
muggy air condensed on our tanned,
bug-bitten skin like droplets
on paired glasses of Lipton iced tea.

We ran shrieking down the dock,
plunged into algae-green water
after tinfoil-wrapped rocks,
dunked our little brothers off fat black tubes
and stuffed mossy seaweed down their trunks
for good measure.

We lay on air mattresses
our dads had blown up
with the clattering air compressor from the shed,
jewel pink cans of Tab in hand,
the sun baking our slippery bodies like Shrinky Dinks,
fishtails and all.

PHOTO: “An Evening in Lakes Country” (Lake Lida, Minnesota) by Penny Meyers. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My family’s cabin at Lake Lida has provided the backdrop to many happy memories. These days my cousin and I tend to watch from shore as our children splash in the lake.

Jennifer Hernandez1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez, Minnesota teacher and writer, has performed her poetry at a non-profit garage and a taxidermy-filled bike shop. Her recent work appears in Gnarled Oak, Mothers Always Write, Silver Birch Press, as well as anthologies Bird Float, Tree Song (Silverton Books) and A Prince Tribute (Yellow Chair Press)

 PHOTO: The author at Santa Monica, California,  beach (December 2015).