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How Lies-In-The-Water Became Seaweed

ISSUE:  Spring 1978
She had no sister. Her brothers would tease her
In the woods, in the cranberry marshes. They would touch
They would follow her, teasing. They would pull her hair,
So she cut it off and went to play in the sea.

They followed her. She swam out further and further,
As far as Fish-catcher, and would stay there
Floating. They called her Lies-in-the-Water.

Her father wanted the head of Jellyfish
To hang in the lodge. Then she would harm no one
While her blood was rising under its first moon
So her brothers took their canoes out far, out far
Where the sea shines by itself, even at night,
Where the sea burns without the firebows of stars.
They found long hair uncoiling in the swells.

They followed it. They came to a fiery head
Gleaming beneath them, swelling and shrinking.
They cut that hair with their knives. They took that head
Burning in their hands. Their hands were burning
All the way to the lodge, and that head burned
All the next day on their sister’s wall. She lay
Under it, safe and dangerous, dreaming her hair.

And her head was burning. It was swelling and shrinking.
She dreamed Sea Mother came to the cold shore.
Her huge white eyes opened and closed.
The shadows of seabirds circled her five fins.
She swelled and shrank. Her breath whitened the waves.
She cried, “Give me my daughter!” And hair from the head
Of Jellyfish on the wall grew back again.

It grew to the floor, It grew through the lodge doorway.
It grew to the sand, It grew into the water,
Lies-in-the-Water took that head in her arms
And walked the path of hair with her sister.
Her own lost hair grew longer, and Sea Mother
Took her head in her arms, took her away
That night, coiling her hair, to be Seaweed.


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