All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking:
they began to spit.
Newly come from the river,
she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid
who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down
her gleaming flesh.
her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears,
she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes,
she did not have clothes.
They blackened her
with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around
laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak
because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.
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