Two Sirens – Orpheus Changes Shape

Siren (detail from Ulysses) - Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse, Ulysses and the Sirens (detail)


John William Waterhouse, The Siren

The world is in constant strings. Perhaps one day, Orpheus, after the women’s unmet desires have torn your beautiful body to shreds, after your severed head has floated long enough in the sea with your lyre tied by the invisible filaments of loyalty to the lobe of your ear, the salty water will gather organic matter and refashion you a body; a body like the body of the one who loved you right, Melusina, a body of in-betweenness, nautical and feminine. The water will mould you into the thing you spent so long chasing.

Your hair will have grown long, released its approximate curl, your skin washed soft and silver by the water, your legs will end in fins and scales. Your voice will return once the water builds you a torso and a pair of lungs. You will spend your days twisting your tail underwater, swimming with more ease than the souls dragged down the Styx. You will sit with lilac water in your veins, perched on sun-warmed rocks to sing songs without words, searching the waters for Persephone. Your song is a seeker, it is limpid, pleading no longer.

Imagine your body, Orpheus, washed clean of agitation and dread. When you loved Melusina’s brief sun, it was because you knew Hades would come to an end, by which time you would become someone like her, you knew the shape her body had come from. It took Eurydice slipping away in a seemingly endless recurrence for the self to craft itself. Mending takes place within the boundaries of the tear. The Underworld is no place for poets, but the skies and waters are.

Your lyre, the patient dog, returns to your arms and gives you its strings. Everything is as it was, returned to the wordless calm of a time before Eurydice’s ankle fell prey to tragedy. Love is once again a possibility. The body is new, the rawness under the skull appeased. All this to look forward to, Orpheus, when your body escapes repetition’s toughened grip and takes on a silence of a different kind.