A Mermaid in the Desert
Under a sliver of moon, inside of soft waves and in the poli of Maui’s arm… I floated.
Looking up to the thousands of stars overhead, salty pillows rocked me into a deep sleep.
I dreamt I followed a shooting star…as it glided through darkness of the sky, I too soared through the night, riding undulating currents of wind rather than water.
I dreamt I woke up far from home, in a memory of sea that had now become a tangerine land. My tail warmed by the sand felt familiar …. yet foreign. Absent were humid hydro notes hanging in the air. In their place was stillness, a silence completely untouched by ocean roars and apart from thundering winds.
I stretched my eyes, seeking familiar sea foam to soak my tail, instead saw hundreds of rolling dunes of soft sand. I leaned forward and rolled down a dune, so quickly I had enough momentum to climb another, and another and another. I passed expanses of mountains, standing as monuments to rains that once was, carved tunnels of the fingers of water still expressed in its sides. But no closer I came to the fragrance of salt.
The desert air parched my lips to a tight chap…snapping me from speech. And so I smelled, and I saw and wandered from my passage of seeking, and began discovering. The heat on my neck lit excitement in my skin. Instead of salt, I became mystified by the scent of valley roses, the buzzing sound of bees making honey. My eyes met with animals that, although different in form than my Uncle honu or whale, had eyes just as familiar. Men and women lying on their side were flicking back waves of still air just as I do on shore.
My desire for something other than what was pulled back like the tides of home, and my longing subsided. I spotted something quivering in the distance. Were my lihilihi lashes and the heat of Saharan sun playing a trick on me? I rolled down the arm of a dune right into a glassy pool of water, discovering a real and rare wavering oasis. Sweet waters from deep underground sprung into a festive beauty, gathering wild date palms and juicy pomegranates to it edges.
As I splashed and played, the sun began its descent, pulling shadows from the round hills like woman bearing her naked chest, revealing voluptuous apricot colored skins of sand in new hues. It was the angel light. And in this precious spectrum, shadows leaned themselves to the earth, slowly like whispers in slanted signals to tell me it was soon time for moimoi myself.
Millions stars popped in the sky on cue, like peeking eyes in passing caravans. A gentle burst of joy opened in my heart, and I realized that in this far away land was also home. I was in a place where once waters of the sea coursed, and I recognized this as much as the smooth surface of the oasis saw me clearly in a reflection. This dry desert and all of its beauty and family, were my family.
I waved aloha and closed my eyes, sliding in the milky way of stars….
I woke up again home, smelling my auntie’s famous limu cakes baking in the sun. Was It real, I wondered? But when I stretched my tail to wake, I heard a new rattle….and looked down to see a perfect spiraled shell added to my kupe’e….a fossilized charm for the mermaid of the desert.