Tuesday, December 16, 2008
in which the sea reveals a memory of reading
You seem in a better mood today, I said to the sea.
That was an uncommonly bad tantrum you were throwing yesterday.
You shouldn’t have been here, said the sea. Come in now. I’m being very nice.
I was shocked. So shocked, that I slid straight in before thinking too much.
Lie back, said the sea. Trust me.
So I lay there. Only my nose poked out, my head tipped back.
I could sleep here, I thought. I spun myself in the direction of the morning sun and pointed my toes at it. My hair fanned out beneath. I thought about Jane Eyre, almost finished, lying on the sofa at home.
You’ve read that book before, said the sea.
You remember that? Me reading Jane Eyre? I was so young! How different I read it now!
and I thought briefly how strange the sea should know of such things, but then again, how not?
Yes, you lay in the sun, by Cabbage Tree Bay with practically nought on yourself, and dipped youself in every twenty pages or so. You were skiving off school.
I had indeed. I remembered thinking that the moorlands, in their colour and texture may have looked somehow like the surface of weedy rocks around Fairy Bower, but the Yorkshire light, back then, was something I could not imagine. I remembered my little bikini in all shades of blue, and the damp corners of each page of the book, the sand in the spine. Then I began to think of all the strange contexts in which I had read such books, in the sun, under the blue, with my hair in long pale strings dripping salt onto the covers. I used to think I had lived my life in books as much as in the real.
I put my head back again, and lay awhile: the sun poured up my nose and into my brain. I would have slept awhile, but that the sea saw fit to tip a little seawater up there too, so I swam back, all the way to the shallow.
I asked the sea, ( since it was being so loquacious)
Yesterday, Did you think I wouldn’t come in? With you behaving like that?
Of course not, it hissed, laughing seaishly.
I return home: Eucalyptus branches are my Christmas tree, lashed to one of the millions of guitar stands found around the house. It looks quite funny, but pretty enough, and now there is a present underneath.