Sunday 29 May 2016

Christine Lucas: Between Heaven and the Mediterranean

Guest post from Christine Lucas.

My childhood wasn’t the happiest of times, but there are a few memories I still treasure. One of the fondest memories is the way we counted our summers: by swim-days. Or swim-weeks. Or, for the very lucky, swim-months. And not just for us middle-class, privileged kids. One look at any map of Greece and it’s clear how accessible the shoreline is to everyone, at some point in their lives.

Yet the sea held more than fun. The Sea was a place of wonders, a place of myths and legends, of gods and heroes. A place of history. As a child, I spent hours gazing at the sea, trying to track down the shape-shifting sea shepherd amidst his foamy beasts riding the waves. Every distant splash on the surface was the Mermaid, and at any time now she’d rose to inquire about her brother, King Alexander the Great. We learned the answer from our early years: “Tell her he lives and conquers.”

Triton, Poseidon, the Mermaid, they all were no less real than King Aegeas, the Argonauts, Porphyrius the Whale, later the heroes and heroines of the 1821 revolutionary war like Laskarina Bouboulina, and the heroes of WWII. Myth and history, blended together with brine and seaweeds, in one unified memory, one culture, one soul.

And then we grew up.

Every disaster, every new tragedy, every loss, gnaw away big chunks of that primal, unchallenged wonder we held in our hearts for our sea. Every day life holds no magic anymore. It has withdrawn from heart and sight, hidden now in the brush strokes of old sea paintings, in the lines of Elytis’ and Kavvadias’ poems, in the island songs and dances, in stories like those collected in this anthology that insist otherwise.

And, perhaps, hidden in those same places, amidst words and tunes and colors, we can find Ariadne’s thread, to lead us not through the labyrinth, but to an eternal shore. There, Homer and Poseidon sit alongside Elytis and the heroes of old wars and new, drink ouzo and share stories and memories.

And there, between Heaven and the Mediterranean, the old magic never waned, and never will.

Christine Lucas’s “Madonna Mermaid” can be found in Fae Visions of the Mediterranean.

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