Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid & the Recipe


Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid was certain she was more frightened than any of the other Old Mermaids. They all seemed to be adjusting to their new life away from the Old Sea more quickly than she was. She still clutched an old sea shell in her left hand—all of the time. Sometimes she held it to her ear in hopes of hearing the ocean or some sign that her old life was not completely disappeared. Once, a drop of water slipped out of the shell, like a teardrop, and Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid pressed it against her cheek with such longing that she dropped to the desert floor and added her own tears to the ocean teardrop. She licked them off her lips while she sat on the hard ground and watched for scary little creatures who might bite her.

Sometimes she ached to hear water so much that she could hardly bear it. She would stand under the blue, blue sky and look for clouds. She would listen to the night to see if she could hear water calling to her from somewhere. She turned to the east and to the south and to the west and to the north. It was so quiet, except for the faint sound of her blood in her ears. Or was it the long lost Old Sea pleading with her to come home?

Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid felt a loneliness she had never known in the Old Sea. She had always felt in communion with everything in the Old Sea—she was constantly embraced, stroked, fed. The Old Sea was a being she knew in every cell of her body.

And now the Old Sea was gone. How could the knowledge of that loss not crush her? Not crush them all?

This day her sobs hiccoughed in her chest as the tears flowed down her face. She needed to be with the others. She picked herself up off of the ground and went to find her sister mermaids. They were gathering up dirt and animal dung and mixing it all with water to make bricks for the house they were creating.

Sister Sheila Na Giggles said to her. “I see you are making water. Good. We could use it. That is part of the recipe of this home-making material. Combine tears and earth. Then stir.”

“And bake until done,” Sister Ruby Rosarita Mermaid said.

The Old Mermaids laughed.

Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid looked up at the sun. “The baking part shouldn’t be difficult.”

Grand Mother Yemaya Mermaid rested her hand on Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid’s shoulder for a moment; then she sat on the ground and began working the soil and water between her hands.

“With our breath, we combine earth, sun, and tears,” Sister Faye Mermaid chanted. “Transforming our fears and tears into house and home.”

“House and home,” the others repeated. “House and home.”

“I love the feel of this earth between my fingers,” Sister Magdelene Mermaid said. “It feels so stable and flexible at the same time. And the color! It’s sunlight in a brick. Only the Earth could make such color!”

“Oh, Sissy Maggie Mermaid, you love everything,” Sister Bea Wilder Mermaid said. “Remember how you fell in love with the Moon when we first got here?”

“I don’t see why you didn’t all fall in love with the Moon,” Sissy Maggie Mermaid said. “But now, I love this dirt, too. See what a little moisture will do to hard dirt? That’s what this old world could use, a little Old Mermaid lovin’.”

Sister Sophia Mermaid rolled her eyes. “You are wise beyond your years, Sissy Maggie Mermaid.”

“Indeed she is,” Mother Star Stupendous Mermaid said. “This dirt is quite lovely. And did you notice the color of the sky at night here? Something very dark and mysterious about it.”

“We’ve seen the sky before—” Sister Ursula Divine Mermaid said. She hesitated and then added, “—before the Old Sea dried up."

“Yes, but not this sky,” Mother Star Stupendous Mermaid said.

“I know what you mean,” Sister Laughs A Lot Mermaid said. “It is different. The stars aren’t brighter, but they shine differently. As though they are musical instruments and we can see them tremble each time they play a note, but we’re too far away to hear what the song is.”

“I remember when I was small, my parents told me that stars were really the teardrops of a giant,” Sister DeeDee Lightful said. “She got lost up there and couldn’t find her way home. She began to cry, but she was so far from home and so far from the Old Sea or any kind of sea that her tears had no place to go. Each one just floated up there in the sky, catching the moonlight at night and reflecting it back to here. Her people saw the star tear drops and followed them to find the lost giant and bring her back home. They left the tears up there to help others who were lost find their way back home.”

The Old Mermaids looked up at the starless blue sky. The quiet pulsed around them.

“Maybe we should try that,” Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid said.

“I tried,” Sister DeeDee Lightful said. “I got lost in the desert.”

“Yep, I looked for her for hours,” Sister Bea Wilder Mermaid said.

“I never heard about that,” Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid said.

“But I did find a waterfall,” Sister DeeDee Lightful Mermaid said. “Or rather the Old Woman and the Old Man of the Mountain found it and showed it to us. It is so lovely. We should all go there.”

“Yes, let’s,” Sister Bridget Mermaid said, “after we get part of the house done.”

“It has the most beautiful pool of water near it,” Sister Bea Wilder Mermaid said. “We could make our own pool here that looks like it.”

“I can’t wait to paint the walls of this house,” Sissy Maggie Mermaid said. “I’ve always longed to paint.”

“Is there anything you don’t long to do?” Sister Sophia Mermaid asked.

Sissy Maggie Mermaid shrugged. “I don’t think so, but I’ll let you know. I do love the feel of this dirt. You should try it, Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid.”

Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid squatted between Sister Faye Mermaid and Grand Mother Yemaya Mermaid. She put her hands in the mixture. She couldn’t help but smile.

“It tickles, doesn’t it?” Sister Laughs A Lot said. “We were talking about that. We missed you. Where were you?”

“I was in the wash,” Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid said. “Feeling a bit lost.”

“So you were crying?” Grand Mother Yemaya Mermaid said. “That is good. You remembered.”

“Remembered what?” Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid asked. She kneaded the clay between her fingers. It felt like the bread dough she helped Sister Ruby Rosarita Mermaid make sometimes.

“Laugh or weep,” Grand Mother Yemaya Mermaid said, “we swim in your tears.”

“So we don’t need to follow the star tears,” Sister DeeDee Lightful Mermaid said. “We can just follow our own tears.”

“Enough of this,” Sister Sophia Mermaid said. “Let’s figure out our next meal. I’m not swimming in tears or anywhere else if I don’t get some food.”

“And this animal dung is getting a little stinky,” Sister Laughs A Lot Mermaid said.

“Probably because we didn’t get permission from the animals to use it,” Sister DeeDee Lightful Mermaid said.

“We asked,” Sister Ursula Divine Mermaid said. “They didn’t care.”

“Food!” Sister Sophia Mermaid said. “I must have food!”

“Now this feels just like home,” Sissy Maggie Mermaid said.

“Yes, it does,” Sister Lyra Musica Mermaid said. She licked her lips. No more tears right then, just sweat, and like her tears, they tasted like the Old Sea.


Anonymous said...

Brava! Gorgeous photo, beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed to hear this morning! :-)