Mermaids’ Tears 

George and I have been going to a lot of coastal areas recently, for Waste Stories and for the Waste Stories daughter project, Future Archaeologies of Marine Litter.

The litter that washes up on our shores is incredibly varied, depending on the local currents, windes, topography and geography. In some places, such as Mullock Bay on the Solway Firth coast, their are dozens of fishboxes. Fauldbog bay – only a few miles west of Mullock – had far fewer fishboxes but lots of plastic tanks and cannisters that once held fuel or oil. But some things appear to be pretty much ubiquitous, including nurdles, fraying multistrand nylon rope and ribbons attached to the umbilical remains of burst balloons.

George wrote the following poem after we had been to a couple of beaches on Eigg, as we started the process of creating the Eigg Hoard.

Mermaids’ Tears

The Polymermaids weep
Polymermaid tears,
lamenting their garden,
overwhelmed, decayed,
from sandy shore to unfathomed deeps.
Triton mangled,
Kraken strangled,
Leviathan entangled,
in unbreakable polymer chains,
as Poseidon’s domain,
poisoned, remains.

The Polymermaids sing
Polymermaid songs.
Alluring and fatal;

Sing, Eurythene!
Sing to mortal earthbound folk.
Sing, Propylene,
mortal yearnings to provoke.
Ester, Styrene, Amide –
comb out your silk-like hair.
Catch the strands to weave your nets,
the whole world to ensnare.
Weep, Etheremide,
weep, Ethylene!
Drown your world with your tears.

Translated from the original by George Robertson.

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