Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks –Pablo Neruda
‘All these fellows were there inside
when she entered, utterly naked.
They had been drinking, and began to spit at her.
Recently come from the river, she understood nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The taunts flowed over her glistening flesh.
Obscenities drenched her golden breasts.
A stranger to tears, she did not weep.
A stranger to clothes, she did not dress.
They pocked her with cigarette ends and with burnt corks,
and rolled on the tavern floor in raucous laughter.
She did not speak, since speech was unknown to her.
Her eyes were the colour of faraway love,
her arms were matching topazes.
Her lips moved soundlessly in coral light,
and ultimately, she left by that door.
Hardly had she entered the river than she was cleansed,
gleaming once more like a white stone in the rain;
and without a backward look, she swam once more,
swam towards nothingness, swam to her dying.
I used to read this poem over and over again when I was younger. I felt different from everyone else. I didn’t look the part, but I tried to play it.
I pulled my copy of Neruda: Selected Poems book out about a month ago, and the page was still marked to this poem.
As I edited these photos the last few days, this poem kept replaying in my head. The photo that really resonates with this poem in my opinion is the one of the female cardinal.
I watch her at the feeder, which is few and far between. She has the shade of a tan and grey…quite drag, but when she flies she is beautiful.
The red and orange flash beneath her wings and tail feathers.
She is up early to feed and one of the last to leave the perch feeder at night.
She mimics that of a graceful dancer and is so cautious of the sudden movements around her.