The more things change…



When we bought our house

And started freeing our cottage from

Ivy and roses that came through

Our kitchen and bedroom walls

We discovered, in our yard,

A little stone mermaid

Sitting on a perch…


The perch turned out to be a dolphin,

The dolphin’s mouth a fountain

And beneath the dolphin,

The mermaid presided over three large shells

That could have easily birthed three Venuses

By Botticelli.


The fountain no longer worked

And we’re not sure it ever did…

Our house being a folly,

This fountain might have been faux as well…


Every once in a while,

With time passing,

Large tresses of ivy would smother her again

Until only one cheek peeked out,

Or a stone goldilock of her thick hair.


Ivy stands for eternity

I now know why—the stuff comes back

And grows faster than lightning

Even in a California drought.


So every once in a while,

I snip and clip again, to free our mermaid

From the clasps of green to make

Her ride those waves again.


Her history I do not know…

But she deserves to be at a château

In France, my mother said,

When she discovered her years ago.

So while we lived our humble lives

in American suburbia (that pleasure dome?)

Our mermaid outclassed us all

By not being an ordinary garden gnome.


Now my mom is dead, but our mermaid rose time and time

Again, and was mine again

After I freed her from the ivy and the clasp of time.


When my daughter was little and spotted

The mermaid in our yard,

I told her she was fashioned after her

As that mermaid looked remarkably like our little gal.

She believed it for a long time.


(Just as she and her bro

Believed my lame-ass lie about that stream

Splashing and clattering down the block…

For years they thought

It was a gorilla taking a leak after a long walk)


Now Caroline is almost off to college,

And is no longer looking like our mermaid

Who rose time and time

Again, and was mine again

As I freed her from the ivy and the clasp of time.


How many more times, I wonder,

Will I go through this ritual of garden sheers

Snipping away and wrestling with the ivy

To rediscover that impish smile

That diligent dolphin

And those outlandish shells?


I may not have long, compared to our garden girl of the sea

But I am sure the new owners of this house will free

My little mermaid as she’s peeping from the ivy

And so she will rise again from the clasp of time and

From what once was our backyard soil

While I will have shuffled off this mortal coil.



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2 Responses to The more things change…

  1. Susan says:

    I love this one Inez. What a stranger left behind turns into your own family’s angel.

  2. Edith says:

    Mooi Inez!

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