Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Mermaid

I drove Sophie to the beach yesterday, partly out of guilt because I haven't done so in months, and partly due to the extraordinary weather we've been having in southern California. Really spectacular days, people -- the kind where I wish that I were a surfer, a lag-about, a stoner, a -- well, never mind.

Here are some photos (I put my sunglasses on her for a moment to see if she noticed, and she did) -- Sophie, as usual, felt the pull of the ocean, her apparent home. It's difficult to walk with her, so strong is the pull toward the water, and when we did, she didn't seem to even feel how frigid the water was on our feet, the whoosh of it sparkling over and over.

And here's a poem from a book called The Fifty Minute Mermaid by the Irish poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and translated by Paul Muldoon:

The Mermaid in the Hospital

She awoke
to find her fishtail
clean gone
but in the bed with her
were two long, cold thingammies.
You'd have though they were tangles of kelp
or collops of ham.

'They're no doubt
taking the piss,
it being New Year's Eve.
Half the staff legless
with drink
and the other half
playing pranks.
Still, this is taking it
a bit far.'
And with that she hurled
the two thingammies out of the room.

But here's the thing
she still doesn't get -
why she tumbled out after them
arse-over tip...
How she was connected
to those two thingammies
and how they were connected
to her.

It was the sister who gave her the wink
and let her know what was what.
'You have one leg attached to you there
and another one underneath that.
One leg, two legs...
A-one and a-two...
Now you have to learn 
what they can do.'

In the long months
that followed
I wonder if her heart fell
the way her arches fell
her instep arches.


  1. Oh. Perfect. Yes.
    And Sophie- again I say- she is so beautiful.

  2. pretty girl, pretty day - perfection!

  3. The pull of the water creates miracles in all of us. I love that you shared this poem, too, a reminder that sometimes, we have to find our own special way, to look at what we have within us and make the best of these gifts. We are all mermaids, out of our element, stuck on land when our heart is far away and doesn't even know what it needs.

    Blessings to you and Sophie and the rest of the family.

    p.s. Sophie is an inspiration to all of us.

  4. What a perfect thing for you and Sophie to have done yesterday!

  5. It looks so lovely there in LA. Sophie, so in the right place by that water.
    I've been "out of it" since 12/27 when I went for the hysterec., but have loved this day of waking up and feeling better and being able to read what you've written since then.
    Reading you is such a treat, you always make me feel stronger when I see how strong you are.
    It's a real joy to come back to you, Elizabeth.

  6. Love it. All of it - the poem, the sunshine, that gorgeous girl on the beach! Thanks for sharing.

  7. This weather is out of control beautiful. I think I am going to take up surfing. And I am not kidding.

    What is it with our girls and their pull to the ocean. Do they know something we don't? Probably.

    Beautiful pictures of your girl. I think of that necklace I brought you, the day we first met, how I scoured the net for just the perfect one, knowing all too well, that you most likely had an over abundance of mermaid items, but when I saw it i saw Sophie. Maybe it should have been for her instead.

    New Mexico. Hell yes. Even if it is only you and I my friend. Even if it were only you and I.

  8. Sophie's beautiful--I love her pull to the sea. I can relate.

  9. I often wonder what people do who do not live near the sea. I have never lived more the a few minutes away. When I was on vacation is Alberta and Saskatchewan I ached for the ocean. I felt physically unbalanced until I was home again. At any rate, I understand her love. It does pull one, hard.

  10. I love that she loves it there so much.

  11. Maybelle looked at these pictures on my laptop and said, delighted, "Ocean!"

  12. Elegance and strength.
    So rare.
    So you.

  13. I follow waaaay too many blogs and always look forward to your posts (as you know). I use Safari and always use the "read all RSS articles" button which displays the newest post from every blog I follow in order

    Anyway, I'm scrolling through and skipping over the fashion pics at the "Mr. Newton in Mr. Newton" blog and I'm wondering why there are so many pictures of the model with the sunglasses and the orange top. I scrolled back to find out that that model was none other than Sophie! It made me smile and wanted to share that with you! Wishing you a safe, healthy, happy and abundant New Year!

  14. I need to get the munchkins to the beach here as well. We need our ocean fix.

  15. sometimes i just don't have words for what i find here. this is one of those times... the images, the poetry, the meaning behind both...

  16. What pictures! What a post. Is there any chance that you and Sophie and/or the boys would like my house for the weekends--or during the week? Let me know. I'm pretty sure it's a perfect place for a mermaid.



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