On the Lonely Ocean

a pelagic love story 

                  by TR


There once was a mermaid

A boy on his own;

The wide lonely ocean

All home he had known.


His tail glistened golden,

His skin was sleek brown,

His smile was infectious

And he owned no frown.


His hair was like copper

Bright eyes were like jade;

His strength would be endless

His beauty not fade.


For he was a mermaid

A boy of the sea

Who swam the deep fathoms

So solitary.


He dined upon seaweed

And slept beneath waves;

He frolicked through shipwrecks

In watery graves.


Why was there no other?

Why none of his kind?

To this was no answer

So none did he find.


Free wild as the four winds,

Content just to be:

This sea boy, he blossomed

Well and naturally.


He grew up with dolphins,

Played tag with the whales;

He listened in fish schools

To oceanic tales.


He gathered up seashells,

Tamed crabs in the reef;

He never knew heartache,

Had not tasted grief.


His life it was happy,

His days they were full

But discontent slowly

Exerted its pull.


For something was missing,

His heart was alone-

Longed for some companion

That he’d never known.


This mermaid grew restive,

Dreams shattered his peace;

He’d wake before sunrise

In weeping release.


His days were distracted,

His nights were torment;

But there was a pattern

To dreams he was sent.


Each scene was so vivid

And his days were laid bare

Except in those visions

Another was there.


He pondered and worried

Till he had a plan,

Then swam toward the surface

To strange shores and land.


Just what he was seeking

Not even he knew,

Yet with course unerring

Through water he flew.


Till he reached the beaches

Of sun-kissed warm sand,

And climbed on a rocktop

To spy out the land.


He looked and he wondered

What had brought him there,

What mystical instinct

Lured him to the air.


When night came, he lay down

On bed of sea reeds

And dreams came to tease him

With unavowed needs.


Lonely without knowing

What loneliness means,

Panning for heart’s solace

And searching the gleans.


In dreams he was walking

On legs like a bird,

And someone was talking

Who, when he spoke, heard.


The skies there were sea blue,

The air it was dry,

His body was heavy

Out under the sky.


Strangest of all, a boy

Stood tall at his side-

This felt so peaceful that

On waking, he cried.


He woke to the morning

And sounds of the shore,

With tail in the water

He watched sea birds soar.


And as he lay looking,

He spied shadowed specks-

Dark shapes in the sand dunes

Thrown up from shipwreck.


Down from his rock, he swam

Alongside the shore,

He wove through the flotsam

No time to explore.


For up on the beach sand

And sprawled in the grit,

He saw a thing stranger

Than he could admit!


Lying insensible

With hair like sunlight,

An odd naked body

With skin cold and white.


This storm-tossed survivor

Was clearly a male,

Though it was perplexing

That he had no tail!


Searching through debris, he

Found no other soul;

No other survivor

Found on his patrol.


  The mermaid drew closer

But saw only him

Amid all the boxes

Sails, splinters and trim.


Emboldened, he hauled up

Onto the warm sand;

He stared at the stranger

And reached out his hand.


The white skin was clammy,

The chest did not rise;

The mermaid remembered

What’s beached often dies.


He rolled the boy over

And massaged his back,

He patted and rubbed him

And dealt him a whack.


A cough made him rear back,

Green eyes growing wide

As he saw the shore boy

Roll slow to his side.


Now coughing and wheezing

But drawing in breath,

This beached boy was living-

They had cheated death.


The mermaid was frozen,

Motionless with fear,

Not knowing what strange thing

It was he lay near.


He stared at the slim lad,

Saw his white chest rise:

He suddenly looked up

And opened blue eyes.


The mermaid was awestruck

And caught in that gaze,

By blues like the ocean

On warm summer days.


The beach boy seemed also

Confused and amazed,

He stared all around him

And back, as if dazed.


“What happened?” he whispered,

Then began to shake

And crying so hard that

The mermaid’s heart ached.


Despite all the strangeness,

He cuddled up near

To wrap him in both arms

And speak in his ear.


“Fear not, for I’ve found you

and you’re not alone,”

This brought tears to four eyes,

The boy’s and his own.


To whom was he speaking?

Which one was in need?

Each clung to the other,

Each willing to cede.


For some time, they held close

On that morning shore,

Warming each other till

Both thawed to the core.


The mermaid, he drew back

And looked at the boy,

Smiled and began laughing

For sheer, sudden joy.


The boy let a soft smile

Lift up his red lips:

Forgotten was shipwreck,

Forgotten were ships.


But he had a question

That he had to ask-

Endeavored to, with calm

Accomplish his task.


“But, are you a mermaid?”

The boy blurted out,

Then blushed from his hair roots

To his perplexed pout.


The mermaid was laughing

And flicked up his tail,

“Well, I’m hardly a fish

and small for a whale.”


Now they were both laughing

And then their eyes met,

Fell silent, then reached out

Not quite touching yet.


The mermaid, he murmured

With voice like the sea,

“But you, what thing are you

you’re different from me…”


The boy frowned and, thoughtful

Answered slow, thus,

“I remember nothing

before here with us,”


“But yes, I can see that

you’re different from me-

I’ve legs for land walking,

you’ve tail for the sea.”


The mermaid, he nodded,

Knew not what to say-

Was suddenly fearful

This boy wouldn’t stay.


He reached out and clasped hands,

Pulled their bodies near

And tried not to worry,

To banish that fear.


But he had been lonely

For so many years,

He was not successful

His eyes filled with tears.


The boy, he then reached up

And brushed them away,

Then leaned in to kiss him

His fears to allay.


His lips brushed the mermaid

Upon his brown cheek,

Suddenly, he felt shy

Unable to speak.


The mermaid turned slightly

Till lips met sad smile-

They transformed that chaste kiss

To something worthwhile.


They pressed close together,

Then their eyes shuttered;

Drew instinctively near

In passion unuttered.


Their lungs breathing faster

Their flesh was aflame,

Each seeking with kisses

To stake his heart’s claim.


Their fingers were roaming

Exploring terrain,

Teenage topography

Became their domain.


There on that sunlit beach,

Warm skin and hard need

Were quick taken in hand

With young, tender speed.


They touched and they grappled

And laughed on the shore,

Though new-met, they quickly

Established rapport.


There’s nothing so lonely

That love cannot mend,

And no one that’s needful

Not cured by a friend.


It takes just a moment

For two hearts to know

They’ve found the companion

Who leaves them aglow.


The two on the shoreline

They loved in the sun,

Their joys, they were many,

Of sadness was none.


Their kisses were fueled by

Long years spent alone,

Their loving was hastened

By time on their own.


There in the morning sun,

Love gave a fresh start

And friendship grew warmer

As heart spoke to heart.


Out on that far island,

There on the warm sands,

A mermaid and shore boy

Met bodies’ demands.


With tongues and with soft words

They traded pleasures,

Until each was richer

With new love’s treasures.


Each licked at skin salty

With taste of the sea,

Each kiss did celebrate

Their love jubilee.


Till both reached their climax

Between eager lips,

There on a shore dotted

With wreckage of ships.


Sated, the two curled close

And lay in the sand;

Alone on that island,

That far ocean land.


In those arms, the mermaid

Began pondering

How it was that they met

And their befriending.


  Reluctant, the mermaid

Pulled backward and looked

Deep into those blue eyes

That held his heart hooked.


“I think I dreamt of you,”

He whispered gently,

The boy’s eyes went wide, he

Listened intently.


“In dreams, we walked beaches

And swam through the waves,

We talked until sunset,

Then curled up in caves.


You listened to my voice

And marked every word,

When you spoke, I took heed

And your thoughts were heard.”


The boy listened to all

That his sea friend said,

Wrapped arms around him as

He resumed the thread:


  “My life has been lonely

Out here on the sea,

In dreams have I only

Had someone with me.


But when I came looking

Up here on the shore,

Those dreams were my guide stars,

I knew nothing more.


To find you is more than

I would have believed,

That you’d also want me

More than I conceived.”


The mermaid stopped speaking

And dropped his eyes down,

Not daring to look up

Lest he see a frown.


The land boy smiled sweetly

Laid kiss on brown cheek,

And, shaking his blond head,

He began to speak:


“That tale is far stranger

Than you realize,

From my lonesome dreams did

You metamorphize.


For years I have dreamed that

I was not alone,

And as I was drowning,

Those visions were shown.


The sea pulled me deeper

And I did despair,

But as all life left me

I clawed to the air.


Determined towards something

That I could not name-

A vision of friendship

And love warm as flame.


Though I don’t remember

I must have then beached

On this morning shoreline,

The safety I reached.


Unconscious, I dreamed of

Someone calling me,

Hoped that voice would hear me

Down deep in the sea.


And when my eyes opened,

Love, there you were

Though all that came before

Is mostly a blur.


Your face was the one that

I’ve dreamed every night,

To learn you were real was

A joyful delight.”


And smiling, he kissed the

Astonished mermaid-

Who gave back full measure,

  No longer afraid.


Both laughing, they lay back

In their sandy bed,

Each more amazed at what

The other had said.


They loved through the daytime

But in twilight’s hues,

They searched through the flotsam

For things they could use.


And blankets and foodstuffs,

Wood for a shelter,

Were found in the wreckage

Amid the welter.


Together, they built up

A home on the beach,

Where boy and his mermaid

Could live within reach.


For mermaids must return

To deep sea depths each day,

Where boys without tails

Come only to play.


And boys who walk upright

Must shelter from storm,

Must have tools and weapons

And fire to keep warm.


Two lovers can visit

To-gether frequently,

Though one needs the land

And one lives in the sea.


No day must be lonely

Though they are alone,

And one island shoreline

Is all of their home.


Each day an adventure

Each night full of love,

Their seasons were happy-

Sleep dreamless thereof.


The years went on forward

And brought them delights:

Days filled up with friendship

That warmed them at night.


As beach boy grew older

While mermaid stayed young,

In dreams he remembered

And memories stung.


Remembered his family

And all he had lost;

Though he was now happy,

  He questioned the cost.


  He longed for fresh baked bread

And trips into town,

For people to talk to

  And voices around.


Though he loved the mermaid

He longed for the world,

And thoughts of a marriage

All through his head swirled.


He’d never have children

Nor a real home,

While loving a mermaid

Who lived in sea foam.


As that boy grew older

And became a man,

Grew ever more restless

Till he formed a plan.


On clifftops, he built a

Great pyre of driftwood,

Would spend long days watching

From up where he stood.


In old storm-wreck bottles

He placed many notes,

With maps to their island

All begging for boats.


That long ago shipwreck

Described in detail,

Those bottles launched prayerful

That one would prevail.


  Searching the horizon

For signs of a sail,

He spent less time loving

His boy with a tail.


The mermaid was patient

Though his sea heart hurt

Each time that his true love

  Climbed cliffsides of dirt.


Those fires in the nighttime

Could be seen for miles,

Be seen by ships sailing

Far from their lone isles.


The bottles held words that

Mermaids could not read,

But all floated outward

Like flowers in seed.


The mermaid dare not ask,

His love did not say,

But it grew much harder

To hide his dismay.


For years they’d been happy

Alone on the shore,

But now it was clear that

His love wanted more.


So he brought pearl presents

And silver seashells,

Gold doubloons from shipwrecks

Under the sea swells.


Yet nothing would stop him

From climbing those cliffs

And lighting each night’s fire

While searching for skiffs.


He no longer spoke to

His one sea born friend,

He chose not to reveal

What he did intend.


When the mermaid’s heartache

Deprived him of sleep,

And dreams left him lonely

Just waking to weep,


He set out to find that

Which his love did need,

He swam many long miles

With backbreaking speed.


Exhausted, he hove up

On faraway shores,

With bottles in both hands

And their missive stores.


He tossed them to dockside

Just before daybreak,

They landed unbroken-

A sound of heartbreak.


He watched his love’s bottles

Knew they’d not lay long,

And there as the sun rose

He sang a sad song.


He left before morning

But all in the town

Had woken to sorrow

That tears could not drown.


He swam home while crying

Salt tears in salt sea;

He wondered if dying

Would set his heart free.


Long sea miles later, he

Reached their island home,

He had not liked leaving,

Had no wish to roam.


His love had not noticed

That he had been gone,

In fact, he’d grown surly

And far more withdrawn.


Still climbing the cliffsides

And lighting his fires,

And still not discussing

His secret desires.


Each morning, the mermaid

Sat on a beach stone

And sang sad remembrance

Of years spent alone.


Brushing his long dark hair

With comb of the sea,

Soft singing of heart’s pain

And what could not be.


When spring became summer

A ship did arrive,

When his true love saw, he

At last came alive.


Loud whooping and cheering

Along the sea shore,

He kissed the mermaid, but

Would kiss him no more.


For sailors, they fetched him

From beach to the sail,

While mermaid was hiding-

His nerve it did fail.


He watched his one true love

Sail into the sun,

Watched while all happiness

And love came undone.


That sail in the sunset

Disappearing slow,

Shattered his sweet heart till

He cried out, “Don’t go!”


The ship did not hear him,

It calmly sailed on;

All night he lay staring,

He watched until dawn.


But ship and its sailors

Were gone from his sight,

Though he scanned horizons

From morning till night.


Day after day, he stared

Out over the sea,

His heart was a shipwreck

Of loveless debris.


For years did he live there

Alone on the shore,

Searching for sailing ships-

No joy anymore.


Slowly, the shelter they’d

Built so long ago,

Decayed and disappeared

Amid things that grow.


The mermaid kept vigil

There where they had been,

The longer the years, the

More he looked within.


Till one day, he wondered

About that far town,

With docks and tall houses

And dirt streets of brown.


Though it had been years, he

Remembered so clear,

Could sometimes hear his love-

Imagine him near.


So he set out swimming

That long ago route,

Floating to far shores in

Long delayed pursuit.


For days he was traveling

Alone on the sea,

Of what he might find, there

Was no guarantee.


Finally, in darkness, he

Reached those settled docks,

He heard human night sounds

And listened to clocks.


And when all was silent,

He climbed on the dock,

And he sang his heartbreak

As if on his rock.


All through the quiet streets,

The notes echoed clear,

And into the nighttime

He sang without fear.


Suddenly, a twig broke

And out of the dark,

Stepped familiar figure

Now older and stark.


He stared at the mermaid,

Who’s eyes opened wide,

For this was his lover

Who’d lain by his side!


Thus startled, the mermaid

Let out a soft cry;

As he began weeping,

He simply asked, “Why?


Love, why did you leave me?

Why did not return?

What made you unhappy

And my true love spurn?”


The boy who’d been shipwrecked

Was now an old man,

His gray hair was not blond

As when they began.


His back it was stooped from

His long fishing years,

His eyes were still sea blue

But glistening with tears.


“You think I’ve forgotten

What I felt for you,

But I’ve dreamed each night, each

Night left you anew.


I loved you full measure

But some things are truths,

And humans can’t live with

Mermaids who stay youths.


Oh, time does not touch you

But me it has changed,

I’m older, not wiser

Since we were estranged.


But one thing I do know

Is that human men,

They grow old and they die

There’s no knowing when.


You will live unchanging

But I had a need,

To marry and father

Children from my seed.


For that is how humans

Live on after life,

By making their children

And home with a wife.


I knew we were different

By more than a tail,

That’s why I lit cliff fires

And finally set sail.”


The mermaid listened close

With tears in his eyes,

And said, “Oh, yes, I know

A human man dies.


But I would have loved you

For all your short years,

Would always have held you

And dried all your tears.


And when you last left me,

I’d bury you deep,

And visit you each night

To sing you to sleep.


Humans know so little

Of love and the heart-

You would not speak to me

And then did depart.


But you should have asked me

And told me your fears,

For I would have told you

I’d treasure our years.


What care I for gray hairs

Or that you grow old?

What hurt me, beloved,

Was when you grew cold.”


The mermaid stopped speaking

He could not go on,

This night was near over

He could smell the dawn.


He looked up at the face

That he’d loved so long,

The man who had left him

For reasons all wrong.


The old man was crying

But he turned away,

And he left the mermaid

As night became day.


Again had he left him,

Alone with sea tears,

And gone off to live out

The rest of his years.


The mermaid stood watching

For love would not stay,

Had long ago left him

When he’d sailed away.


As dawn lit the fish docks

The mermaid did sing,

He sang of remembrance

And long ago spring.


As fishers, they readied

Their skiffs and their boats,

Came sweet sea borne sad song

From one mermaid throat.


As they sailed toward fish schools

With their nets and spears,

A heartbroken mermaid

Sang out his last tears.


When his song was over

And his tears had dried,

He set off for his home

Atop the dawn tide.


On reaching the island,

He did hesitate,

Then swam out to deep seas

And his lonely fate.


There once was a mermaid,

  A boy on his own-

The wide lonely ocean

Where he lived alone.


He swam among seashells,

Sang songs in the reef;

  Songs of heartache and the

Bitter taste of grief.


Oh, what is true love worth

If it’s thrown away?

And how real the passion

If time will betray?


He sang beneath deep waves

Sang on through the years

Knowing that the sea salt

Would disguise his tears.


                              His tail glistened golden,

His skin was sleek brown,

His tears were like sea pearls

In which one could drown.


His hair was like copper

Bright eyes were like jade-

His youth would be endless

His beauty not fade.