Tuesday, 31 March 2015


In the depths of the sea no wind can stir the silt into a tornado that greedily absorbs the colour and shape of everything and yet the surface boils with turbulence. The sea is a restless sleeper, always rolling over and back, never settling. It is dressed with flashes of colour from myriad fish and phosphorescence flares from the deep like a water born aurora. Waters flow endlessly around the earth in rhythm with the planets dance which can be rough and threatening, stealing life, drowning men, and yet she has a lullaby to sing when she is calm.
The fishing boats ply their trade year after year and the seasoned sailors know never to turn their backs on the sea lest it turns on them in an unexpected swell, swilling them from the deck in a salt spray slide. But when their work is done they allow themselves to be soothed by her song until they stay, subdued, in her far reaching embrace for the night.
The men on board, starved for the softness of a lover's touch dream dreams of mermaids rising on silvered tales from the depths to hold them and pull them deeply, into their rocking arms, their swollen bosom, their ripe mouths. The seasoned sailors warn them over cocoa,
"They will come to you in vulnerable sleep, Beware the shimmering comeliness of a mermaid's beauty their welcome is not what it seems. Fish must eat too and no curlews' call can reach you beneath the waves, no wondering albatross, a year on the wing, will see your path and send rescue. You are at the mercy of bliss. Should you give in to your desires and kiss the sea witch in return you are sure to taste salt tears. The dream would fold in on itself, collapse,a shout for help would bring you no aid. You are beneath the waves. Open your mouth and shout " I am in need of help" and you are doomed. There is no ladder back to the stars and you will be called forever to the billowy kelp gardens in the deep-dark. No. Better to enjoy the gifts of the dream and leave when they are done toying with you following bubbles to surface from sleep. Ask no more of the silken purse of nights' velvet sky but to deliver you safe to the 'morrow. There are too many connotations to the incantations of the sea, enchanting though they may seem. Do not trust the softness of the mermaids in your dreams it is insubstantial as a cloud. A man? A man can afford to be completely shameless in his dreams, he is blameless and can return to shore unsullied to enjoy his palpable pleasures."
Wave farewell to the mermaid then as she flicks foam with her tail and slides from her rock at dawn disappearing into the crest of a folding wave. They are freed now of the uncertainty of dreams.
"Shake of the night and let loose the nets one more time, men. Let's fill the hold with the sea's bounty and make our way home to the protective strong arms of the harbour to find a softer bed. The trestle tables are waiting to be laden with our treasure, dressed in their finest white damask gowns.

A violet evening sky rich with stars hangs like pinpricked silk across the heavens showing the relief of froth and foam cresting on gentle waves. They sing their constant lullaby on the water's surface while phosphorescence, the secret mermaid light of blue and green, bubbles in curtains from below, an aurora of the deep.
The bubbles of colour dress the leviathans travelling silently, unseen, in their finest sequinned frocks ready for the dance below the sea. Smaller fish fan their pectoral fins in puffs of pride showing their ribboned green and blue, the colours of an oil slick and as deadly to the more demure females of the species who can do nothing but shine their shimmering mirror scales.
The crowd assemble, coming through the four winds to conquer the extreme power of the sea in a need to dance, to celebrate, to sing their song under the sea. One by one they slip their silver coin to the mermaid with the dragons tail, progeny of an unholy union of myth and magic, who guards the gateway. (This will be the one day they all pass but only if her dragon heart desires are sated with silver.) She examines the coin for quality and nods her permission for them to enter Atlantis.
The grand ballroom, a cathedral of fan and fire coral lit by the swaying forms of myriad rainbow anemones offering a mirage as unexpected as that of melting fresh water layered on top of salt, making the leap or seal and the narwhal instantly at home. They cannot stay long below the waves and are eager for the festivities to begin.
The King appears, flanked by a royal guard of Mermen and Manta Rays, the book of power and a thousand secrets tucked safely under his arm. It holds the power to the Kingdom and can never be lost or Atlantis will fall. A turtle makes his slow ponderous flight through the water towards the King
and slips from his shell a silver token, a gift, a reminder, from the Fairy Princess on the Lone Isle to the North. His bewitched daughter resides with her still, beyond the castle keep. It is his great sadness. She lost her heart to a Landman and let the scales filter from her tale into the turquoise seas. Her punishment, to be banished from Atlantis, never more to fit in one world or another and so she lamented day and night all that was lost to her. She was kept beyond the great stone walls in a shallow pool so she could breathe the air and yet keep her skin from drying to parchment in the sun and she wrote daily to her Father, the King.
"Dearest Father and Sovereign King,
Why have you stolen my life? Why did you let my love fall through the endless fathoms to the floor of the trench to be supped on by the ancient terrors, six-gills and hag fish in the darkness. Am I not more precious to you than all the world. You know the Fairy Princess has the power to return me to your care if only you will give her The Book of a Thousand Secrets. You have my love, have I not yours?"
She had not forgiven him then, nor forgotten her love. And that was his curse.
Ever the servant to his people the King nods to the treasurer and the turtle is passed a silken coin filled mermaid's purse for his act of kindness, his tender delivery of heartbreak.
The King exits from his private grief, a cloud passing over his eyes and puts on his public face. He claps his hands and the Clam Calypso strikes up. The freedom of dancing naked under the sky and sea begins. Colours flash and whirl as the fish dance in crazed oblivion like bumper cars under bright anemone lights in a lunacy and excitement of utter abandon.
The way stone of knowledge hangs heavy about the Kings neck and holds him steady while his court whirl around him like ghosts of lovers, blurred at their edges.
"What is their secret," wondered the King, "how can they let go of the worries that bring me to my knees." He looked through the magical kaleidoscope portal to the sky and kingdoms of Above searching for the Curlew to hear their comforting song, "Hear us when we cry to thee of those in peril in the sea." They did not have his worries, but then they were supplicants to the wind's caprice. Nobody is truly free.

The copyright of this post belongs to Holly Khan

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