How to Make Love to a Mermaid
Brittany Kerfoot
{from e-Issue #10}


  1. Find a mermaid. You may have been told that they swim the depths of the Aegean or wash up on the shores of Tahiti, but these are lies. She will surface only at night, in a storm, after the first clap of thunder.
  2. Gain her trust. Read her poetry; compliment her seaweed hair or her operatic voice or her divine beauty; remember she is a woman.
  3. Wait.
  4. Ask her about her day. Remember, she is still a woman.
  5. Seduce her. You may have been told that mermaids are sirens, but this is a lie. They are shy like stray cats.
  6. Lead her to land. You cannot trick her by stealing her voice and hiding it in a clam shell; you cannot bribe her with your special human kiss.
  7. Wrap her glinting gold tail, smooth like snakeskin, in dampened cloths and watch it split, divide, part like the Red Sea.
  8. Lay her down. Not on the sand or in a dune or atop a beach towel. In a bed, like a woman.
  9. Let yourself in. Then let yourself be taken.
  10. Sleep.
  11. Awaken to find nothing but the faint smell of salt.
  12. Google: “unrequited love;” buy a boat; search for her; track weather patterns and water densities and become a coastal storm chaser; dream of her—of fishermen and divers and passionate sharks forcing apart her scales and—; wake up with a fever and a brick where your heart used to be; refuse to give up; do not meet anyone else; grow old; keep searching; die.

Brittany Kerfoot earned her MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, and currently lives in Washington, DC. Her work has also appeared in Driftwood Press, Madcap Review, and Paper Tape Magazine.