Last night I had that dream again. I heard a voice of glass and iron, a voice of tobacco and boiling stew, the sound of barns set ablaze. A voice that sounded like someone I knew, someone I met when I was young. Someone that, for a reason surely known to God, I have long since forgotten.
Once in a while, you come across a piece of writing that deeply resonates with what lives inside you, in words you did not have yet. That happened to me, on a sleepless night. I fell in a YouTube rabbit hole and ended up at a recording of Adrienne Rich’ ‘Diving Into the Wreck’, a feminist poem from 1973.
Last year, I jokingly wrote this (alter) ego-inserting fanfic, placing my PhD topic in the story world of Netflix’ The Last Kingdom. It was published on different fora, but lacked a stable place online. So, I decided to republish it here. Enjoy!
The theme for BWQ’s Spring issue is “Firsts” and I wrote a personal essay – with soundtrack! – about two of my first experiences: the first time I felt rejected, judged and excluded as a bi-romantic misfit, and the first time I felt how I could claim my place in space.
In a remote village, some workers are building a bridge, but are scared away by vampire mermaids. Some are pale with long dark hair and glowing red eyes and their tails resemble snake tails. Others have green skin, and long fingernails, such as Qualupalik. Read this creepy story about a Vampire Mermaid written by Scott L Vannatter.
The first track of my solo album is about the story of Achtamar, which I learned in Armenia. Using the familiar trope of of star-cross’d lovers, the story of Achtamar is about a young woman named Tamar and the young man who loves her. They meet in secret on an island, until Tamar’s father discovers their trysts and sets a trap for the youth. He manages to escape, but he is mortally wounded and cannot swim across the lake. As he dies, his last action is to whisper her name across the water: ‘Ach, Tamar!’.
With the help of my friend Ofelia Melikyan, I translated the famous poem by Hovhannes Tumanyan about this story. And with the help of John Vandenberg, I rewrote it into a poem of my own, that could possible serve as a song text…? 🙂
Achtamar / Akhtamar – a poem by Հովհաննես Թումանյան – Hovhannes Tumanyan – translated by me –
Their whispers are felt in her heart The time has come… and once more One into the waves does dive While the other prays on shore.
“Who is the brave young man, who, drunk on love, removing pain and fear from his heart cuts through the lake at night
He crosses the lake from across the shores and kisses our Tamar so He’ll take our lady from us, he thinks What does he take us for?”
This is what was said in hurt by the youth of the isle And the fire Tamar had lit the light was put out that night
Lost in the murky waters Was the swimming man in love The wind carries with it, brings forth The moans of “Ach, Tamar!”
The voice is near, in deepest dark under the sharp rocks of shore Where the water rapids roar His calling falling on deaf ears but sometimes one cane hear a muffled “Ach, Tamar!”
In the morn, the tides were calm And brought forth the body of the man On his lips so cold, so still Two words were frozen: “Akh, Tamar!”
And ever since, for this reason, They call the island Achtamar.
This beautiful collage (including Achtamar as a mermaid playing with fire under the sea!) was made by Isabel Verhaegh. 🙂
Achtamar – a poem by me
Now grief fills the air, here, where once a story of love dwelt. Two lovers were lost in each other, but the world conspired against them!
The two lovers – a sister bird and her brother – locked wings and rubbed heads finding peace amidst the tumult.
Alas! The sister was a monarch’s daughter and her brother was but a mere commoner. Oh! Two lovers, joyful lovers they were! – two shining hearts flying amongst the stars.
The princess waits with aching limbs, when the night is high, along the shores of lake Van Raising a burning torch in her hands While the flames of love shine brightly in her heart
Her beloved cuts across the water swimming every night to meet his Tamar. He folds her in his wings with no fear. The things a newly found brother for his sister will do.
Love flows like water falling from a cliff, not knowing or caring about differences or any limit. But the world abhors such bonds. To humans, this relationship is a curse.
One night the world struck a blow against their bond. Hatred extinguished the flame of her love and left her beloved in the waves of the lake. To die in cold as he wailed “Ach! Tamar!”
Her love was felled in hatred’s face as Tamar’s torch was doused by her kindred. And her beloved was left to die while she was dragged away into the night.
When the loss of love became too much to bear in search of her beloved, Tamar jumped! Into the water to be with her lover a mermaid to hide from the cruel world above.
To this day, the wind still tells their story. “Ach! Tamar! Ach! Tamar!” is heard along the shore! And grief still fills the atmosphere, where once a story of love did dwell.
In Oceanopolis, I encountered a beautiful and intriguing mermaid. It was an artefact of Inuit art – goddess Sedna. Touched by the small statue and the fascinating myth behind it, I would like to share the story of Sedna with you, by means of some creative writing on my blog. Continue reading “Sedna the Inuit Goddess (revisited)”→