The Sirens’ Song
Once there was a school of fish that lived in the cool dark depths of the ocean. They lived there happily, in the cool waters for many years.
One day, there came a beautiful singing. It was the sirens: mermaids who some say lure sailors to their deaths with their songs. The hero Ulysses, it is said, had his sailors stop their ears with wax so they couldn’t hear the sirens calling, but had himself bound to the mast, so he could hear the beauty of their song without being called to his death.
Some of the fish who lived in the ocean couldn’t hear the sirens’ singing. “It’s just a myth,” they said. “It’s only your imagination.” And they went about with their lives.
Some of the younger fish heard the singing, but only dimly. “It isn’t safe,” they said, and they stopped their ears, and turned their backs from the beautiful song.
Still others heard the song, and day after day it filled their hearts, until they could do nothing but follow the song. They left the safe depths of their ocean home, and pursued the song. They traveled many, many miles. Some of the fish were so full of the sirens’ song that they stopped eating, and could do nothing but travel where the song led.
The sirens’ song led them to the mouth of a great river, where the water changed from salty to sweet. The fishes’ bodies changed too, so they could live in the sweet water rather than the salt water of the ocean. This allowed them to continue to follow the beauty of the song’s calling.
The fish swam up stream, sometimes leaping joyously out of the water. But there were bears along the edges of the river, and they caught some of the fish while they leapt, and ate them. Still, the fish followed the sirens’ song.
Fishermen also lined the banks of the rivers, and some of the fish, who by now were very hungry, were tempted by the fishermen’s lures. They ate the bait, and were reeled in, and the fishermen took them home to feed their families.
Other fish, however, were so full of the song that they didn’t even notice the fishermen’s lures, and continued up stream.
Across the river was a mighty dam that people had built to tame the power of the rushing river and to use its energy to power their lights and warm their homes. Some of the fish leapt at the center of the dam helplessly, unable to leap its height to continue their swim. Some of them died, exhausted with the attempt, but others found their way around the dam, and swam up steps built along the dam’s edge, that people had built to help the fish in their swim upstream.
These fish swam uncounted miles, as the river gentled and opened out into beaver ponds, and still the fish followed the call of the beautiful music. The fish were exhausted from their travels now, and much thinner, because the song filled their hearts so much that they would forget to eat. And still they traveled, caught up in the glory of the sirens’ song.
Ultimately, the sirens’ song led them to warm, wide, shallow creek beds. This was where the song had been calling them to, calling them to return to the place where they had been born.
“The song was a lie!” cried some of the fish, and they died, exhausted and embittered for having traveled so long and so far only to return to their birth place.
Others, however, rejoiced in finding the source of the sirens’ call. They made nests of fine gravel, and laid their eggs. Even though they were exhausted from their hard journey up stream, they watched over the eggs until they died, but they died with the rapture of the sirens’ song still in their hearts.
And when the eggs hatched, the new fish lived in the streams while they grew in size and strength. After a few years, they migrated, and lived for a few more years in the beaver ponds, while they grew even larger. Then their hearts were filled with a different sirens’ song, and they followed it down the great river, into the ocean. When the water changed from sweet to salty, their bodies changed as well so that they could live in the salty waters of the ocean, and they swam down into the cool dark. There, they lived there happily for many years, until the sirens’ song called to them again, to return to the place of their birth.
The Sirens’ Song