Sirenum scopuli

May 30, 2008
By Cassandra Guevara, West Nyack, NY

There is a corner of Hawaii where, when dusk falls and the sky turns gold, I imagine that the Sirens once sang. Because of this, I call it “Sirenum scopuli,” although I know that those are mythological islands, and the Sirens are mythological creatures. The sound of the water beating the rocks coupled with the orange sky’s reflections on the green sea make this place a sensual getaway; I imagine naive sailors being lured to the rocks to their deaths, but I hope that has never actually happened in this part of Hawaii.

It means the universe to me to know that I have you to confide in. You are my dearest friend and my sole companion during these long, wistful days. I know that is because you are like me, ostracized by the others for your outlandish ways. We are separated from even each other. The villagers tell me that you do not exist, but of course you exist because I know you.

When the sun sets, I come here to this place and become a Siren. I take off my shoes and step carefully so I do not cut my feet on the jagged promontory, which is full of craters, edges, and other hazards. Wind blowing through my hair, I sit on the ledge facing the gold horizon and imagine singing a song so beautiful that men are irresistibly, helplessly drawn to me. One small slip and I could plunge into the waters and crack my skull on the immense, obsidian stone. It is dangerous to do what I do, so I advise you not to follow me.

Below, the waters swirl like cyclones. Did you know that there is a tempest monster in the same Greek epic poem as the Sirens? The epic poem is the Odyssey, by the way, and the monster is called Charybdis. Because people are reminded of that monster at the sight of these currents, this area is deserted. I prefer to have it to myself anyway. However, do not fear for my safety; these meager pools are not nearly as powerful as the great Charybdis. They flow in whirling paths, creating white mist and foam as the waves beat forth and ebb back. Glistening froth reminds me of the gentle foam of bubble baths or laundry soap. Doesn’t it make you want to leap in?

The sun is beginning to set.
Before you leave me, there is a confession that I must make.

Only in my imagination am I a Siren. I do not sing well, and mystical sailors bizarre enough to become entranced by my voice would not come this close to the mainland. In actuality, this precipice is a pathetic imitation of the land that I know is Sirenum scopuli. I pretend that it is Sirenum scopuli because it is unfeasible for me to journey to the paradigm setting for Sirens. But it is there in front of us.
Lift your eyes from the boulders that are as black as death and look before you. Do you see it? The surrounding sky unites with its reflection in the water to ensconce the isle in gold. The sea contiguous to the isle’s golden glow is a ghostly jade, and a beautiful pale fog rises and drifts about the rock; I see it from here. Yes, that island is Sirenum scopuli- I am certain. If I stood on that island, my body would become enveloped in the golden light, a medium between the sky and green sea. Maybe that dazzling light has the power to transform me into a being more marvelous and powerful and wicked than an uninteresting human.

As I look down, I notice that the drop is less intimidating than ever. The wind has picked up; my hair and skirt whip about me, stinging my face and legs. The island is calling to me. Reaching to me now, the water is calling to me. I hear the shrill cries in the wind. Toes edging over the abrasive ledge, my eyes gaze straight ahead. Waves are slamming below me as I reach out toward my destination, grasping the isle in my hand.
It is time for a swim.

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