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.