|Weeki Wachi Springs|
This morning I met Moye at a neighborhood pastry place for a belated birthday breakfast. She stuck a candle in the bunch of hair that I had pinned to the top of my head, and then we lit it and I burst into flames and disappeared. Just kidding. Well, that wasn't funny, really. We actually sat down and drank delicious coffee, ate this incredible concoction of bread, exotic sauteed mushrooms and eggs and shared some divine confection -- a cannelle, I think it was, all crispy caramelized on the outside and eggy soft in the center. We talked about our children and shared some memories of our high school years (we grew up together in Atlanta!) and we laughed together like we always do. She gave me a beautiful bracelet/necklace that I promptly wrapped around my wrist and a wonderful little book of poetry called Poems of the American South from the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets series. She wrote a beautiful inscription inside in her inimitable gorgeous handwriting, drawing my attention to the poems inside that include mermaids, Tar Heels and tender mercies. Thank you, Moye, for your years of friendship, for your sense of humor, your support, your beauty and your inspired art.
September 11th is always a sombre day -- isn't it? Our minds inevitably go back to where we were and how we heard and how we led our lives in those days following. There's a tyranny to sorrow, isn't there? What we are almost required to feel or remember? I'm always struck, on this day, by the strange paradox of the Never Forget communal imperative juxtaposed with the get over it mentality we place on individual loss. It's something I think about, particularly in regard to my friends who've lost a child or suffered some other big loss. There's a tyranny to sorrow, isn't there -- or at least a manufactured order to it.
I was going to post a poem on this somber day of Adam Zagajewski's -- a poem that I've posted before that I think is entirely appropriate, but instead I'll give you the link and post the mermaid poem from the book that Moye gave me.
It's all we can do, really.
Try to Praise the Mutilated World by Adam Zagajewski
My First Mermaid
In Florida, where these things happen,
we stopped at the last roadside attraction.
In a small theater decorated with mold,
behind a curtain sagging like seaweed,
a wall of glass held back a wall of water.
And there, in the springs, a woman in a bikini top
and Lycra fish tail held an air hose to her lips
like a microphone. What was she waiting for?
Into the great open bowl of the springs
a few fish drifted. They looked at the two of us.
They shook their heads and their bodies rippled.
Air bubbles shimmered in the filtered sun,
each a silver O racing to the surface to break.
We'd missed the day an unscripted underwater blimp
of a manatee wobbled into view. The gray, whiskered lard
of a sea cow or the young woman who sang --
lip-synched, rather -- some forgettable song,
her lipstick waterproof: which was the real mermaid?
Given the weight of the water, nothing happens fast
to a mermaid, whether it's love or loss.
Not like the landlocked life, I wanted to warn her.
But here came a prince in street clothes,
trying to think thoughts that were heavy enough
to make himself sink to her level. His shirt ballooned,
a man turned not to a merman but a manatee.
Yet, in the small eternity it took for him
to grasp her greasy flipper, for her to find
his more awkward human ankle, and then
for them to turn, head over each other's heels --
a ring rolling away, too beautiful to catch --
they lived happily ever after.
Until one of them had to stop for breath.
Debora Greger (1949-)