The Albatross and the Drowning Mermaid

The Little Mermaid statue

I cannot always talk directly to my wife. Or at least I cannot expect any definite answers. That’s where the mermaid comes in. Through her an entirely different kind of communication is possible. It’s a different kind of talking and a different kind of listening. Like poetry and myth making. It came to me first in a dream, not long after my wife died.

In my dream, an albatross has written a three-dimensional poem about my wife and I am jealous. Other people are heaping praise on the albatross for his clever construction and the profound truth that the poem conveys about its subject. I am completely out of my depth and cannot compete with this legendary seabird. There is a photograph of my wife that I’ve never seen before. She is swimming underwater. Down, down into the depths of the sea. Away from me and out of reach.

The poem itself is constructed from carefully selected objects and spoken in a language which cannot be understood, except by birds and mermaids. It is created by suspending objects in the air and tracing the meaning that exists between them. Of course, such a poem cannot be translated. It is a self-contained world that must be inhabited, experienced and lived from the inside. This living work of art seems to have its own consciousness. It is always evolving and never complete. The meaning of the objects contained within its sphere can change from moment to moment and so can the objects themselves. Each object exerts influence over neighbouring objects so that they must be considered in relation to each other and in relation to the work as a whole. In themselves however, and taken out of context, the objects appear to be quite meaningless, and the poem makes no sense at all.

Conch shells, pebbles, seaweed, driftwood, feathers, starfish, sharks teeth, fossils. A dead rat. The albatross is creating his poem through the gifts he sends. A decaying crab’s leg, bone fragments, fishing tackle, oranges, a fish carcass, cigarette butts, sand beetles, a small plastic cowboy with his head missing, an empty beer can, a piece of rope, a discarded doll lying face down in the sand. It is clearly a love poem. The albatross, like all inspired poets is a collector of lost and broken things. He can see the bigger picture in even the smallest and most insignificant objects.

There’s a message in a bottle too. It’s a message from a drowning mermaid. In my dream, the mermaid has become identified with my wife. Sometimes she is dead and sometimes she is alive. But mostly she is drowning. You can call her a sea nymph if you like. It does not matter. There are many of her kind. – Where are you now my darling? I cannot find you anywhere. Where have you gone? And when are you coming back?

The sea is so calm and lovely today and the mermaids are whispering from beneath the shimmering water. – We miss you. We love you. We will always love you. Don’t be sad. Don’t be lonely. Come and join us in the waves. Just follow the little silver fish out past the rocks where the sailors sit in their painted wooden boats. Past the lighthouse and the old shipwreck where the galleon lies on the sea bed. Keep swimming till you can no longer see the dunes on the shore. The albatross will be with you, flying overhead and reciting poetry that you will not understand. There’s no need to be afraid. We are here waiting for you with open arms and a loving embrace.

There’s a wind now picking up over the sea. The current is stronger and you are beginning to tire as the waves heave and the sea swell pulls your body down under the surface and into the deep. Down, down into the depths of the sea. You are drifting into a blissful sleep, breathing underwater in your new aquatic world. You are swimming with the mermaids and can hear them singing. It’s a lullaby for lost lovers and drunken sailors. Soothing the soul and releasing you from all earthly cares.

In the morning the waves lap gently on the empty shore. The sun is shining on a gleaming sea. The albatross picks at the remains of a dead mermaid – washed up on the beach and lying face down in the sand. The police have been called. The beach has been sealed off. The forensic specialists have arrived. Enquiries are being made and an investigation is already underway.

05 January 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *