Mermaid in the City: Chapter 5

Danae

Today another man arrives, somewhat sun-fried, as is usually the case on the beach, where the sun beats down on everyone without remorse. Some are better equipped to withstand its effects, though; some are more levelheaded than others. He is brown and drunk and athletic, and wants to sit by her side for a time. Really, he wants to make love to her- who wouldn’t? He touches her arm, her hand, her smooth, lightly-toasted skin, and they look into each other’s eyes. He does not understand this creature in his presence, her mind, her past, her hopes and wishes, but he knows he wants to be near her, to have her lift him out of himself, out of his sad life, away from his history, away from the beatings and the blackouts and the days of being broke, and out of his sad little room, with the bars on the windows. This ray of sunshine, this new spring flower, perhaps can make him forget for a moment what his life has become. She goes with him to his room nearby, and they take off their clothes and make some kind of love on the mattress covered in plastic, with people barbecuing outside, and children yelling, and the old plumbing clanking in the walls. She lies on the bed in the fading light of afternoon, and thinks of the old days…

…we would come back from the beach, sand and salt in our hair and on our skin. And as the sun was not yet ready to set, we would take our riposo, waiting for night. And you would make love to me, and I would imagine we were two butterflies entwined and rising into the brilliant light of the sky. And we were so happy in those days, falling asleep in each other’s arms, and calling each other, my love. And I would forget how far from home I was, and feel comforted by your presence always. And we would wake up at dusk like the coyotes, and for a minute, would forget where we were and even who we were, and it didn’t matter, as long as we were there together. And in those days of sleep and surf and sex, we never knew what kind of trouble might be brewing, never even considered that storms may come, and youth may fade, and how love may not be strong enough to stand the winds that strain the ropes. If only we had know the art of rope splicing then!…

The memories sit inside her heart, as in a cage, and no matter how she shakes the bars, they will not fall out. Another shower, another hallway lined with spirits, hungry ghosts asking, “Are you a hooker? Are you a dishrag? Are you yesterday’s leftover meat? Are you one of us?” as she runs down the hall and out into the sunshine to escape their rebuke, to escape to her own cave. The wind rushes across her face and through her hair as she races home. Once there, curled in a ball, she begins the exorcism of the knot of swarming black worms from her back. Sleeping in a ring of fire, she pulls them out, one by one, and flings them into the flames, where they burst into an incandescent, phosphorescent blaze, causing the whole wriggling mass of them to burn, squirming. The hole that’s left is filled with smoke, smells of charred meat and burned prairie. It closes up, heals over, sprouts with new grass. Jupiter, life-giving, growing force, expands to grant her new life after the cleansing by angry fire.

Though Kronos the Ur-Father ate all his own children one by one, the last baby, the baby Zeus was saved by his mother, and taken away to an island cave, where he was suckled by a she-goat. Goat’s milk, food of the gods! His fingers, stung by nettles as he crawled through the brush, grew immune to any mortal danger. He loves all women, and will always come to their defense, as long as he can be repaid with their bodies. How many stories there are of mortal and immortal women being chased by the king of the gods, trying to escape (or not), and being rewarded by being transformed into a cow, or a tree, or being impregnated and sent away to survive or perish alone on a desert island.

But the Mermaid has power of her own. She can welcome the new grass while rejecting the god’s advances. She never stops moving, and changes shape at will. And when he wants her, she’s nowhere to be found.

She visits the opium den across the street, down an alley, where the smoke lazily drifts, and the man at the door slowly greets and admits the dark users inside. Testosterone and dopamine drives them on ravenously; they do murderous, unspeakable things. They swallow birds whole, and race towards oblivion, attempting to demolish each other, and themselves. They labor intermittently at creating the next masterpiece, struggle to channel the will of the gods into a new Bible- if only they could just get rid of the dross and distill their brilliance into nectar! Go the fuck to sleep, lazy man. Madonna Lisa is in your dreams. Find her, fuck her, fight, and flee. The Lizard is king.

…and you are my beloved, great dragon. You are the center of my universe. Never have two souls come together as our souls have merged. We are the primeval energy of the galaxies; we are all-encompassing. Nothing else exists. We are everything. My beloved and I, the first creators in the history of time. We are the body of the Goddess, we are milk and honey. We feed each other, we are pure pleasure, we float through space and time, undesiring, completely fulfilled…