I speak to you with the voice of the waves,
From the drowned city with no name
That is at once all drowned cities:
Lyonesse and Ys and Atlantis,
Sunk far below frothing whitecaps and creamy foam.
I wonder at the stories of my home,
the ones that didn’t get it quite right,
Seeing as there are none left but me to tell the tale.
No noble kings, no virtuous saints,
No wise philosopher-warriors or virgin queens escaped to far-off lands
Whose words, whispered to this confidant or that,
Spread the loathsome legend far and wide.
Only me, wreathed in shimmering veils,
Clad in mail-coat of gleaming scales—viridian and jade—
Tossed far below the towering tsunami;
Jade indeed, they name me in those legends:
Wanton, wicked, willful,
And fond of nothing so much as my own desires,
Not even the lives of my people or my father’s love.
They say I consorted with demons, took the Devil himself to my bed,
But there was no scarlet knight:
In truth, I slept alone,
Save for half a dozen silver- and pewter-furred cats.
They say it was I who spun the magics that roused the storm,
Or, worse yet, offended the gods:
Taranis’ fury, Ran’s ire, or—most insulting of all—
Spat directly into the face of the Good Lord above.
The only magics I hoarded were the most fickle bit of luck
And a skill at reading dreams, learned from ancient scrolls
Traders brought back long ago from Greece.
And yes, I saw it coming:
This crystalline doom that loomed over the city,
Struck down the dike, inundated the towers, turned streets into canals,
And drowned every last sad soul.
When the waters reached my window, I threw myself down,
Expecting to be swept away like all the rest.
I have never known the source—
Wizard’s wiles? Mystic mark?
—of the sorcery wreaked upon me,
Changing my limbs to fins, skin to scales,
And trading the lungs that breathed sweet air
For gills to tread the brackish deeps.
How can you understand what it is to lose your entire world?
How can you sneer at me in my solitude,
Or be so free in assigning blame?
Morgen now, I sing this song: I alone, I alone, I alone,
And for all your righteous wrath, your civilized scorn,
For all your haughty hatred that admits no knowledge of my maddened grief,
May you one day see the waves coming for you,
Understand in that last second that there is no salvation:
No way to swim against the current,
No dam to hold back the tide,
No boat to whisk you away,
And know that I am smiling, oh so sweetly,
As I watch you drown.
Jennifer Lawrence likes the fey and the strange, which explains most of her friends. Married, with two daughters, she has earned a B.A. in Literature and a B.S. in Criminal Justice. Her interests include gardening, herbalism, mythology and fairy tales, theology, Celtic music, role-playing games, horror movies, and the martial arts. Her work has appeared, is appearing, and will appear in numerous publications, including Aphelion, Jabberwocky, and Goblin Fruit. She lives with her husband, her younger daughter, five cats, a dog, and a houseful of gargoyles somewhere near Chicago.
Image: From The Water Nymph, John Maler Collier, 1923.