Fallen Off The Map

From the corners of the map it fell, nourished by clouds that curled into pearly shadows and sighed in crystal breaths. It was guided by the currents that led sailors to unknown lands and cut into shorelines like capricious claws. From the bottom of the ocean it was pulled up, feeling nature’s green magnet drawing it towards the light – a vindictive attraction digging at its jaws.

It rippled underwater like a curious ribbon through a downpour of ambitious DNA and microscopic populations. And when it burst through the ocean’s surface – pelagic, anonymous – its scales glittered across a many-faceted skin. Its body was a veil of prisms – a country of changing color as subtle as the mists that gathered in the maritime horizon.

Silver and scarlet like an aristocrat’s pretentions, its metallic body embroidered the sea-foam before coiling into the tidal darkness. The early explorers, navigating the ocean using math and myth, feared this monster and its salty embrace. They looked into the nameless distance for the creature that was harnessed to Neptune’s nacreous and violent chariot, stabled in his hidden grottoes, surrounded by his armies of bloody-gilled fishes.

Here Be Trouble

For centuries it lived in maps and imaginations, inside atlases and fears. It was relegated to corners and margins, but occasionally sailed forward – nautically and boldly – challenging the latitudes that crossed its path. And always beneath its lustrous breast was the legend, ‘Here be monsters’.

But the light still beckoned, a radiant temptation that swirled through its body, illuminating its blood. The creature rode the threads of linen maps like minute currents, breathing in the cartographer’s ink, leaping away from harbors named after saints, the Trinity, after the hope that was good.

This summons was a call from reality – calling until it was free of the superstition that kept it harnessed off-shore; threatening the coasts of the Mappa mundi.  Yet when it finally reached the dry air of knowledge, it became held fast in truth’s thin comforts. It breathed in the new atmosphere, warmed by the impudent star that taunted the daylight.

It breathed a final time.

A Long Journey

And it died.

Serpent In The Sand

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10 responses to “Fallen Off The Map

  1. * big deep sigh* Yes, I was holding my breath. What a wonderful and wistful journey.
    Here lies a monster. Treasure him for what he is.

  2. Great post. You totally sucked me in. Great homage — I’ve never seen a real sea serpent before.

  3. Wonderful! Love the picture!

  4. Fantastical!

    Now, should we smoke it or fry it?

    • Big guffaw at pyroot!!! Yous sucha goof!

      I was thinking about Mr. Monster whilst I was at work today and I kept thinking “…and flocks of seagulls sing thee to thy rest.”

  5. This reminded me of a short story by Ray Bradbury, in which the fictional and mythological creatures of Earth have fled to another planet after science and technology have erased them from Earth’s cultural memory. There’s suggestion that books of fiction have been burned or censored; Santa Claus and monsters alike have been banned from discourse. And the Earth of course is considered poorer for their banishment.

    Good one, m’dear. Missed your presence on WordPress.

  6. I am not surprised the creature chose you to weave the tale of its legacy, Aubrey.

    By the way I have a book to recommend to you: Eels.
    http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Eels-James-Prosek/?isbn=9780060566111

  7. Lauri – thanks; I wonder – if you or I saw such a thing lurking beneath the waves hundreds of years ago, would we be frightened? Or delighted?

    steve – What’s in a name? Here’s proof that they really do exist…they only exist under another label!

    Freedom S. – I kept finding picture after picture; they were all so mysterious and beautiful…not fearsome at all.

    pyrit – This is so eel-like in appearance: we should jelly it, surely? (and it’s funny: every time I come back to this post, I worry if Mr. Serpent will be starting to decay)

    Hangaku Gozen – What a marvelous story – I will have to search that one out. Santa Claus and monsters – in a way they can be put in the same category; and yes, the world is a much poorer place without them.

    Emmy – I was at Barnes & Noble with Boyfriend, trying to get him to choose a book for himself for Christmas (I’ve finally given up trying to surprise him: it never works) and I saw that VERY BOOK and thought how fascinating it looked, and how wonderful the cover etching was!

    purplesque – thank you!!

  8. Sigh… I feel like I could live off your words! Thanks for leaving them here to be drunk.

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