All my life, I’ve had nightmares predatory fish. Big, black, prehistoric monsters threatening to devour me in the ocean’s abyss.
One day, I dreamt I was sitting inside the dark cave at China Cove (Big Sur). Protected in shadows, I could see that it was blindingly sunny out. Suddenly, I saw a huge, black, tail… covered in scales… grating across the sand… a merman’s tail! I was petrified. I didn’t come out of my cave. I sat there, and started drawing with sticks in the sand. I decided to write a poem about it, after some encouragement:
Tales of the Supernatural
Black tarry scales, tough as nails
Grating deliberately across the sand
A mighty, armoured, glorious tail
Indescribably male … not of this land
And shaped like shields, upon each scale
A shiny, intricate, celestial emblem
Could it be Triton? Where’s his trident?
The torso and up hidden from my sight
The tail, unabashedly bathed in sunlight
Glistening, wet, it foregrounds the beach
Foretelling scenes of the supernatural
Moving slowly, letting the mood prevail
Commanding the writer in my soul,
‘Immortalize this black tale’.
A few days later, I read my poem aloud at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore (across from the Notre Dame). To an audience of expatriate writers. Everyone thought I was referring to a black man’s private part. Three gay men told me how aroused they were, from my “sensual” poem. I was so shell shocked I had a beer and forgot how to take the metro home. How did they get THAT from THAT?!?!?! Hmmph. Hmmmmph! “Dude!” “It’s a merman!”
SO, I didn’t do anything about it. I spent a few months journalizing and developing my voice. Moved countries. Had a near-death experience.
It happened again. When I least expected it, I dreamt I saw a mermaid. I dreamt of orca-dolphin chimeras swimming circles around her and poking their snouts at her playfully.
She had me at hello. “There’s this novel, waiting to bust out of me!” I declared. My best friend (a guy) went, “What’s it about?”. I grinned from ear-to-ear. “Mermaids”.
“Mermaids?!” He asked, incredulously. “I mean, like…. dude….. Where do I put it?”
Boys are so annoying.