The Mermaid in the Hospital, by Núala Ní Dhómhnaill

She awoke
to find her fishtail
clean gone
but in the bed with her
were two long, cold thingammies.
You’d have thought they were tangles of kelp
or collops of ham.


“They’re no doubt
taking the piss,
it being New Year’s Eve.
Half the staff legless
with drink
and the other half
playing pranks.
Still, this is taking it
a bit far.”
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.
(Read the rest here on Poetry Foundation’s website >>>)

from Ted Hughes’ Gaudete (1977)

[From The Epilogue Poems]

A doctor extracted

From my blood its tusk


The mountain-root from my body


The seven-seas’ spring from under my eye-tooth

Emptied my skull

Of clouds and stars

Pounded up what was left

Dried it and lit it and read by its flame

A story to his child

About a God

Who ripped his mother’s womb

And entered it, with a sword and a torch

To find a father.


I hear your congregations at their rapture

Cries from birds, long ago perfect

And from the awkward gullets of beasts

That will not chill into syntax.

And I hear speech, the bossed Neanderthal brow-ridge

Gone into beetling talk

The Java Man’s bone grinders sublimed into chat.

Words buckle the voice in tighter, closer

Under the midriff

Till the cry rots, and speech

Is a fistula

Eking and deferring

Like a stupid or a crafty doctor

With his year after year

Of sanguinary nostrums

Of almosts and their tomorrows

Through a lifetime of fees.