Monday, March 24, 2008

In which the fish tries to think of one hundred thousand words for blue and green

The aquatic topography is different at eye-level, when you are far out at sea.
Mountains and valleys all shifting, rising to peaks and dropping down. It’s surprising, once you get out here how vertical it all gets.

It is late morning:
Not the brilliant silverness of dawn, but the time when the sea starts with a base note of indigo and works it way to a robust middle passage of emerald, a melody of cerulean blue. Perhaps a major seventh, and an erratic little melody because there is one moment silence and then the roaring avalanche of overbalanced wave, right next to you. Silence and screaming both, out here.A roar next to me when the peak rolls away, and yet I am on a dark glassy face.

I kick, with fins, in big arcs, I am a selkie, having found my sealskin; in the greendark I rush silently. My fingers waver and trail tears of air like pearl earrings, thrust out front of me.
One for every finger. If I raise my thumbs, I have ten.

Pearls the size of pigeons’ eggs, like a fairytale.

That cracking noise? I listen carefully, ask the sea:
I thought you weren’t speaking to me? I have swam lone and in silence all summer. Surely you heard my weeping, silent as it was.

Who said I was speaking? It’s your own head, all that talk, all that noise,
I thought I hard the sea say to me.


My fishspawn sits silver on a surfboard, among a crowd of others. She looks at me and then away. Her look says, please, don’t dive over here and be weird: I am sitting with boys.
And indeed I look and wonder, who it might be that catches her eye: Adam, Ben? Sam or Tom? They are all hunched in formation, watching the horizon. She like a white bird among them,I think to myself. The sea tilts up, they all paddle in unison, all looking east.
I wave and swim on, further further, until I am by myself and my legs ache and I lie under a rolling bowl of cerulean blue decorated by a rim of swollen nimbus cloud. The skin of the sea is slippery , it shines bright cobalt and passes between my fingers like oil.

There are colours rising in walls: not even my pencil box comes close, not even the Sennelier inks in Parker’s, the inks like gems in all colours, all, but these don’t have names enough, the greens of forest, emerald, jasper, the blue from Persia and the sky:
I imagine myself looking for these colours, my pencil box is inadequate, no Derwents can match! Inks, perhaps, I imagine running my finger along the paper labels,
azure cerulean prussian cobalt viridian olive sap meadow chrome
Perhaps if I were to tip the inks onto the floor, perhaps then that might be language enough for the blue and green that is out here,
Navy ultramarine, turquoise pthalocyanine hookers emerald sapphire jade

Today it is Easter Sunday.

I lie on the surface of the sea and stretch out my arms in the shape of a crucifix and think about resurrection.
Perhaps one could drown of love,
They say you can drown two ways, the first by passing out from lack of oxygen, the second from taking that huge involuntary inward breath and swallowing the sea.
I am sure the sea would rush in, were I to find myself far from air at any given point.
I wonder, staring up from my bed on the surface of the sea, when love will come and rescue me, from here, where it left me. I am rocking to and fro, my toes are higher than my head, then not.
That’s what love is.
Love will resurrect me.

I am being dragged by the toes towards New Zealand and my hair hangs in a cloud: I feel it tug softly as I am caught in a current.

I know what you’re doing, I say to the sea,
I can feel you.

That is your own body, not me, says the tide.

No. You are sending me out to the deep. So be it, I’ll go.
Out with the bluefin tuna and the tiger sharks and the kingfish, in wait for the first of the southern rights to head up north, the humpbacks spouting on their way.

I love you anyway, I tell the sea, knowing the lack of sense in saying this.
I have given everything I could to you. I still do, I can’t help that.

I lie a while. I swim. I spear myself through walls of water and come out the other side into air, and down I go. I say to the sea, I know you are with me, by that sharp pain inside the cage of my ribs.
The sea replies by seizing my hair with a muscular watery fist , backwards, pulling me down over the falls , I inscribe a curved line before I fiercely kick my finfeet and come back up:
I smell the breath of the deep.

That wasn’t very nice, I say. Are you trying to make me dislike you?
My hair is matted now, and I have hurt feelings.

Shitty stinky bugger, sea.

Just then a wall of water, the green of which might be somewhere between Aztec Jade and Viridian (dark), rushes at me and I stretch out my hands. For a second I am balanced high above the earth, in sea and sky both. I have to kick hard with both feet and pulse my whole body: my shape is fish, my dive is deep. I am far, far, far: There is no reason for such mountains out here, yet here one is. A piece of kelp like a huge bracelet is wrapped around my wrist, pale olive and spiny, I am a warrior.
Blackfish pace below me: I can see the pale ebb of their striped flanks, their anxious movements.

When the next one comes I take off with both arms stretched out and my head down, I launch myself down and the sea tries to pin me, by the spine, to itself, but I am stretched out strong and my chest is full of pale blue air and when I touch the sand my hair is woven up into knots, but I have ridden all the way in a silver streak and the kelp is still on me.
Easter is about rebirth: I feel I am scrambling into the light. I have been sent back to shore.
I smile.

My child takes off like a bird and arrives nearby, whereupon she stalks up the sand, beak in the air, the sun reflected from her shiny head.


bluemountainsmary said...

Your words are extraordinary.

I actually do not have the words myself to convey just how beautiful this piece of writing is.

jellyhead said...

Yes. You are an artist AND a gifted writer. This post is so vivid I kept half-expecting a wave to crash right onto my face.

I hope you had a good break over Easter fifi. And I'm glad you smiled on your return to the sand.

:) (smiling just to be 'chatting' with you again)
XO Jelly

meli said...

amazing, fifi!

Luhlahh said...

Beautiful and Harsh, Overwhelming and Empowering, Familiar and confusing, Soothing and Deadly. Nature is a strange friend sometimes....

meggie said...

Thankyou for taking me with you!

ganching said...

Beautiful writing as always. I hope you reach dry land.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that was very beautiful.

The only time I ever die in dreams is by drowning. I love the sea - to look at - but I could never swim far from the shore despite the fact that I am a confident swimmer just because of the fear that those occasional dreams/nightmares have given me. So when I read your pieces about swimming there is always a real frisson of fear for me because when you write it is like I am there in the water.

jane said...

Those finger bubbles...trails of tiny pearls. when you swim, all the time, these are the wonderful watery things you see. Secret swimmer business.

travistee said...

One of your most memorable posts, Dear Fifi!

Kirti said...

My first visit Fifi - lucky me! I'm hooked and I'll be back for more.

Leann said...

awesome your words carry a soul away to another place in time.
thanks for sharing.:)

Keshi said...

ty for stopping by my blog Fifi. Ur not Fifi Box btw r ya? ;-)

U write beautifully hun!


Molly said...

Who knew that teenage fishgirls could be embarrassed by their wonderfully weird fishmoms, just like us humans! Marvellous writing!

Luhlahh said...

You might enjoy Yarnstorm's "Inky socks" post:

Keshi said...

aww tnxx :) I was only kidding.

btw come play the game in my blog ;-)


fifi said...

Thank you lou for the tip, it's always nice to find kindred ink-lovers..

Thank you all for your wonderful comments!

Arcturus said...

That is such a beautiful lead picture. I just love it. I may use it on my blog if that's OK with you. And the entry was, as always, sublime.

"I wave and swim on, further further, until I am by myself and my legs ache and I lie under a rolling bowl of cerulean blue decorated by a rim of swollen nimbus cloud. The skin of the sea is slippery , it shines bright cobalt and passes between my fingers like oil."

Wow. I can't even comment on how beautiful that is ... and you used cerulean and cobalt as separate shades of blue. I'm tingly all over.

I saw Sydney do the Earth '08 lights out thing and I thought of you. Naturally, we didn't do anything in D.C. or most of the U.S. as it might embolden evildoers everywhere or undermine Bush and his greatness.

Sorry, no politics, except how did I end up in such a silly, nutty, irrational country?

Isabelle said...

Wow, wonderful writing, Fifi. Beautiful but scary too. I love the sea but it really doesn't love people, does it? It tolerates us. Usually.

And double wow - right first time about where we were. Norfolk. How on earth did you know? You're a witch! Or a selkie, maybe...

fifi said...

oh, Isabelle,
I just knew, weirdly.
I just knew.

alice c said...

Thank you for this - it is so wonderful and inspiring to find a new and unique voice.