Because she appeared, at first, cumbrous, out of place, I presumed her a lost West Indian manatee who, looking for warmer waters, made her winter way from the Gulf of Mexico through a brackish river to a shallow, tepid estuary in the suburbs of Fort Myers. Because she spent more than half of the day, like a teenager, submerged, grazing on floating hyacinth, alligator weed, and mangrove leaves, I surmised she was sibling to the dugong and was not so surprised by the muscular rudder that seemed to stretch from her thighs. Because I found her later on the deck of the pool in a crowded condo complex, because years before I emphatically doubted our driver in Huatulco as he swore he’d sighted a sirena from the bluff where we stood, and, because, beyond story books, I don’t believe in water spirits, I hesitate to tell you this. Because her ancestors are associated with drownings, floods, storms, I should have been more careful, but I was arrested by her nacreous tail and swept into the choir of sailors, pirates, and schizophrenics who are certain we’ve sighted Atargatis–or one of her beguiling sisters.

mermaid1 mermaid2

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