Story sequence, 1991
The Po river reaches and mingles with ocean brine.
Above the surface, reeds and a few birds.
Below, alternating zones of muddy and clear
water and bits of debris settling ever so slowly.
Four canoes anchored off-shore throw their shadows.
Visibly disturbed, but without haste,
the mermaids come up to investigate.
In a small tent lay four boys, young athletes asleep.
By now it’s nighttime.
The mermaids lose their tails which drift to the riverbed.
Then they climb into the canoes and decide to paddle up the river.
Light of the full moon.
In the first small town touched on, a dog stirs awake.
A cat. A child in bed nearby. They can just
barely make out voices singing.
Then they move to go and see.
Further on, in the left bank, a cello answers.
Perhaps it’s that old man
who spends each summer in the shack. And,
still further on,
a flute played by… by whom?… no-one
And yet another. On the right bank, violins…
The mirror of water sends sound-waves in all
Hours later, the mermaids reach the city.
Manned boats are slowly pulling away from
The mermaids stop rowing.
The current leads them gently back to the
sea, other boats
and others still following at a distance.
It’s almost dawn.
The four boys stand on the waterfront and
watch far away,
then nearer the canoes and the young girls.
The song cuts off abruptly.
The faraway orchestra is still playing.
Four silent dives in the early morning halflight.
The canoes drift on their own toward the boys.
Now the first boats appear.
The sound comes alive in pink:
the Po river is awake.
A. M. – 1991