“The Mermaid” Painting by Audrey Mabee


“People sometimes try to convince me that I am drowning.

If that’s true I can breathe underwater.

But I can’t just swim away like a mermaid.

And sometimes I do struggle,

But most of the time my eyes secure themselves

with a deadened glaze and rest in the dankness of my brain.

I know there is no life guard on duty, but if you want to

swim in the moonlight there usually isn’t.

If I go under, the water’s cool, cushiony embrace

Will envelop my tired body and lay me on the

Powdery sand to rest.”

POEM BY KATE NICKERSON, when in high school



  1. Wow! You are extraordinary and were in high school too! I like this line esp, “I know there is no life guard on duty, but if you want to/swim in the moonlight there usually isn’t.” You occur to me as living your life swimming without a life guard 🙂 xx


  2. You captured a universal awareness of pure, raw existence, existence that has no form or purpose unless there is also perseverance to achieve and create, whatever the odds.

    And how you have fulfilled that purpose! Not only in High School, it seems, but throughout your life, right up to the present time. You do not give in, nor do you complain or despair.

    My thanks to Narelle for identifying the young poet.


  3. And how was it that Kate Nickerson’s young mind was already writing of ‘the dankness’ of her brain and of ‘her tired body’ ?
    I think she must have been a precocious young lady. 🙂


  4. I went through many of those feelings as a teenager as well. I wrote reams of poetry as well in those years, though none which illuminated my fears and captured teenage angst as well as Kate’s.
    We are much alike she and I for better or worse!
    Kate and her husband live mainly in Seattle.


  5. How old was Kate when she wrote this? Pretty amazing stuff!



  6. It’s an interesting melding of image (utterly cheerful) and words (cheerfully ambiguous). I like them both very much, and do like the “no lifeguard” line, but I’m really taken by that first line. How often people try to convince us of things we know perfectly well aren’t true. Fighting against that sort of thing could make a person more than a little tired.


  7. One of her images seems rather dark, but given her age at the time, not too surprising. I went over to the dark side often as a teenager. Also we are often told what to do to the point it can be disturbing.


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