Surveillance – A New Poem from Flutter: A Southern Gothic Fever Dream



In which Sylvia, beset by fever dreams, receives a magical kiss to bloom the catfish mermaids in her father’s pond back to colour.

Scaled sentinels, by light of falling star,

report surveillance, from afar.  Dead-eyed

sky sirens, vernal equinox, window ajar,

two hover, skeleton locked outside,

observing demon and the enemy —

pubescent maybe mermaid murderess

he climbs in canopy to kiss.  Lips he

denied their spectral queen, a licentious

conspiracy, they spy, unseen, with tails

transparent, kicking clouds towards the moon,

female-fish-kill-ghosts it shrouds.  Shadowed pale

platinum beams, their bestial commune

of greyscale screams awaits tonight’s report

of conspirators who chose to consort.

Author’s note

Kristin Garth: Sylvia Dandridge, a 16 year old dying of scarlet fever on her parents Pensacola estate Longleaf in 1883, has been both an invalid and a fantasist all her life.  Fevers she’s experiencing exacerbate these fantasies. Surveillance is a fever dream about both kissing a young demon with the power of blooming in his lips and betraying the mermaid kingdom even further in this act.  

Sylvia’s father populated a pond with giant catfish to feed her mermaid fantasies.  The fish were too large for the pond and died, or, as Sylvia sees it, the mermaids did.  Now, she is receiving the magical blooming kiss that the grey spectral mermaids desire to bloom them back to colour. The ghostly mermaiden sentinels who watch have much to report to Thora, the queen of the deceased mermaid kingdom.