Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In which storms blow through the fish's bones

I am on the far south coast.

I have come here every year in this decade of drought, and the sun has always lit and warmed this world.
Illuminated the trunks of trees and made shine the sand. Reflected from the water in all its forms: the brown of the lake and the lapis of the sea.

Last year I hunted for the perfect stone among hundreds on the beach, it became my obsession, there were so many stones, and all seemed perfect. Here one lovely, there another, Jade and speckled, silver and banded. Always another lurking a little further on for me to gather, the world’s most perfect southerly stone.
The almost-perfect one I threw onto the ocean as an offering. The perfect one I kept, and bound with cord to the most beautiful northern stone, and later they flew with me, both to the northern half of the globe. They are there still , but I am not.

The day before yesterday I braved this newfound wind and rain and went to find the stones, but this year there are none. They lie buried deep, by tides and wind, deep in the sand. I wandered up some way, among the piles of kelp with their mournful salty tang, pondering the disappearance of all the stones, and saw above a huge seabird, almost white with mottled brown. It soared and dipped, then disappeared. The horizon rose and fell, the sea dark green and laced with wild runnels of white as far as I could see. I knew if I walked in it would snatch me to the depths, and no person would ever know. You could walk an hour and not see a soul, not reach an end, just walk forever on this endless beach. So I kept out of reach of snatching waves, just this once. I am not going to my end, not just yet.

That night , I walked down to the edge of the beach where the kangaroo grass gives way to a broad expanse of sand, and the island is a barely discernible shape, black in the darkness.

There was no moon to cheer me, and ragged clouds rolled towards me in bands, pushed by winds howling across the Southern Ocean. The noise of such winds, screaming through the She-oaks and hunched scrubland on the edge of a vast expanse of ocean, possibly the aural definition of melancholy.

This wind and dark rushed at and through me, through new formed spaces in my bones I had not known were there till now, as I stood there alone, wind tearing through my very chest. Ragged and desolate, The night found every crack and space: as if I were a house worn down by sea winds for centuries, my paint blowing off my boards like splinters of snow, my foundations creaking, moaning for my inhabitants to return to me.

The blue of this night the coldest shade of indigo, I felt then the emptiness and loneliness of this landscape, the enormity of space and distance, and the fragility of bones bleached and worn by the tide.

Sometimes the world seems overwhelming. My cubs saw fit to see the world in quite another way: they ran and paddled and postured and paraded, they rowed and swam oblivious to the murderous intent of the wind and clouds and sea. They defiantly rode waves with their father, stepped on sea urchins. They were a blur on the edges of my vision.

I turn my back. I wait for the storm to pass: It shouldn’t be for long.
The universe twists and turns in upon itself, one day infinite, the next moment contained in the smallest of things.


jellyhead said...

fifi, you're right - we ARE both in the same mood this week. And yet, as you say, the wind will turn in another direction, the storm will pass, the blue will fade and the sun will shine down on us again.

Sending you a hug from afar

bluemountainsmary said...

May the sun come out soon and warm your bones and bring you glimmering back to us in Sydney.

Regulus said...

A 10 year drought in Australia ... I heard about that. But where is this place on the shores of the Southern Ocean -- at the edge of the Roaring 40s, which as you know are followed by the Furious 50s and Screaming 60s and deep into the Circumpolar Vortex poleward of which is Antarctica's isolated and fearsomely extreme climate -- that you spent this time? Where is this place? What event brought you there? I suppose these are questions more appropriately asked by email.

I've never heard you describe the ocean as "murderous"! What will the sea think that you describe her like this!

I think this was one of your best entries, but I say that about all of them because, well, they're all so wonderful and sublime.

Washington, D.C., about 10 billion miles from you, just doesn't have the same spiritual effect on me as the powerful natural beauty of Australia and the vast ocean that surrounds it has on you.

Anonymous said...

It always strikes me as weird how the same places can seem so different to us at different times dependant upon our state of mind. It is also intriguing how the same place can evoke such different feelings in other people.

I can't seem to find any words today - I know what I want to say but it just won't come out! Sorry.

Pod said...

did you go collecting stones in your nighty again?
(top pic is ace)

fifi said...

The sun is glimmering, I am home, the sea is till giving me spiteful looks...

Pod, I do everything in my nighty these days...

Regulus: The landscape, whilst wild and lovely, can also seem empty and endless...

Leann said...

I to love to pick up cool rocks.my whole family are rock hounds.thats why we have piles of them all over in our livingroom,and in our gardens along the walk ways and rock gardens.
once my hubby and me were able to go to a rock qorry and find crystel.found all kinds of them.I cleaned them up and plan to make some stuff with them.

Luhlahh said...

How far South? Qld, NSW, Vic, Tas? I can't tell from the photo!