Sunday, June 28, 2009

Can You Feel It

 Funny thing is,
that when Eija turned up to yoga, she reminded me that three decades ago, give or take a year or two, she and I were wearing the very same black footless tights in the Senior girls Jazz Ballet class at the Youth Club as we were wearing now. 
I've no doubt that Eija could wear the same actual pair of tights all these years later, being tall and skinny and Finnish, unlike me. Who'd have thought, Eija, that here we would be in the same dance tights in the diabolical hot yoga room decades later?

Her mentioning this of course prompted a sudden vision of Jazz Ballet, and Eija's hilariously serious face, her wildly curly hair and long ungainly arms and legs flying around out of time. Those moves were so ridiculous, of course if you were to adopt one of the steps in isolation you would look like a complete idiot: I was, therefore, continuously laughing in class, whereas she was always quite earnest. How can you be serious when standing in warrior pose, knees pointing simultaneously east and west, pelvic thrusting to the first dozen or so lines of Michael Jackson's Can You Feel It? Made me crack up every time. Week after week as we learnt more steps the song grew longer, at first we filled an enitire hour with endless repetitions of can you feel it can you feel can you FEEL it, till at last we knew the whole thing and could perform it beginning to end.  I never ever failed to laugh at the opening moves, when we all jumped forward into this pose like lunatics and began gyrating and shimmying. Oh even now I only have to hear it and I laugh, I get the urge to leap forward and extend my arms. Throw my head back, shake my shoulders: yep, I can feel it. 

Way back then we had little idea that one day we would have daughters the same age, going to the same dance class, with the same teacher. Our daughters, strangely enough, could pass as sisters with their white straight hair and vaguely nordic faces.  Who on earth could have known that? Who could have seen the future end of year concerts, watching in exquisite agony for hours on end,  our girls perform in their sparkly home made jazz ballet costumes. Not to Michael Jackson, but to Britney Speers. To my eternal astonishment my glittery creations never actually fell apart on stage, despite having constructed them with a hot glue gun instead of a sewing machine. I'm quite proud of that.  Eija of course used the more conventional methods, so naturally never had to worry about potential wardrobe malfunctions.

Eija has started yoga, now, like me. She started two weeks ago, and I have been coming for eight.
 She saw me down at the beach and commented how well I looked and I explained, well, perhaps Eija it is this hot yoga I am doing, and she was very intrigued, because everybody knows about the Bikram Yoga studio which is said to be an inferno and not for the faint hearted. Naturally, I love it, being a rather extreme kind of person, and I warned Eija that sometimes when I leaned over in a pose I dripped sweat like a shower in a pattern on my towel, like rain, that it was so hot I looked like a glazed ham on my first day, that I absolutely ran like a river, that I sometimes shook with the exertion. 
She wasn't having any of it naturally: I'm Finnish, she said. I can cope with hot saunas, and it looks like its doing you the world of good.

And so Eija came too. She did, I noted, have the good grace to look as much like a beetroot as I did on her first day.

 Next thing I had coffee with Elizabeth at the beach cafe and she remarked, oh you are looking well, when is it you are off to Italy? and I said oh why thank you Elizabeth it must be the hot yoga not very long now  just a couple of weeks and next thing Elizabeth turned up at yoga too, though the thing with Elizabeth is that she can talk paint off a wall and if you aren't careful she will tell you about all her children's births or something unpleasantly intimate like that, and since she has four children including twins this is not just unpleasant but time consuming.  I know very well all these birth stories: once I was stuck in a hot tub with her and had to hear each one blow by blow until I could stand it no longer and told her that the hot tub was making my feet peel and that made her hop out very quick smart in order to avoid having to simmer herself in hot water containing small bits of my feet: I consider this to have been a stroke of genius on my part.

So on Thursday at hot yoga there were five of us from the beach  counting the Little Hen and Sarah the Beautiful, all sweating away together waiting to begin when Elizabeth asked me again when is it you go to Italy I have forgotten already and then Eija made the remark about wearing the same tights to jazz ballet and how much we loved that Michael Jackson song, and I said, yeah, Eija,  really we should go down to the beach and do that dance together on the sand right in front of the cafe on a Sunday just for the hell of it because it is so funny,  I imagined she would be quite serious  while I of course would be weak with laughter, because some things don't change.

But after that I went home drenched and looking like Baked Ham, and my daughter who looks like Eija's daughter called out suddenly Michael Jackson died and I thought how very strange, I was only just talking about him not one hour ago.  

I called out to her up the stairs to come down and I would show her some really cool dancing to Michael Jackson if she liked but she said no that would be highly disturbing thank you very much so I did it anyway and sang as loudly as I could because really, it seemed appropriate, and such a shame to deprive her.

Friday, June 26, 2009

in which the fish celebrates the solstice

Did you know, that during the long nights of winter
the nocturnal tides are far greater than those which occur during the day?
And the tide on the night of the Winter solstice is 
the biggest one of all.

While I sleep, the sea creeps in and takes great uncontrolled bites out of the beach
while noone can see it.
If you walk here during the day, the sea will try and pull you in, suddenly, when you aren't expecting it.

I danced my own solstice ritual at the edge of the sea
looking into the relected light with my palms above my head
acknowledging the whales passing by unseen 
in their deep speckled silence.

I thanked the sea and the sky for all the wonder in the world,
the breath in my chest, 
my two hands together,
and how lovely it is
to be able to move in complete freedom
under the sea.

Later that day,
I swam in a race, all of us flying into the winter sea
shrieking .

The sea was wily and wicked
and tossed everyone about in a wild way
and right near the edge
stole the goggles right off my head.
Just like that.
I dont care, I said, I can be blind and still swim.

Now the days are longer, just a little, 
and my son has a new friend.
My daughter tidied the whole house yesterday while I worked,
and I counted twenty days
between myself and  far away shores.
That makes me very happy.

I am thinking about all this
while having my breakfast.

Twenty short days.

as always, looking out towards the horizon.

Monday, June 15, 2009

yesterday and today


When it rains,
and you are floating on your back way way out to sea
it still smells like wet earth even though
you are so so far from land. 
Who knew?

Raindrops patter on my face
far away the sand deepens to orange
as the rain soaks it:
meanwhile out here
there is only that deep primal earthstone smell
out here in an immensity of salt.

No waves, just the shush of falling rain.
I float awhile out here,
 then I swim.



it is dark.
The sea completely silent, only the lightest ruffle of lace skirts at the very edge.

My heart beats loudly at the thought of 
swimming before sunrise
but I do.
I slip in, and swim every note I can muster of 
Beethoven's's Moonlight Sonata. 
With each arpeggio
the rippled sands below
become lighter.
A bright half moon 
lights my way.

The sun rises: I watch it 
my head raised like a seal.

Not a single cloud,
just vast sea and sky
hard and clear as glass,
one Southern Right
spouts out near the horizon.
That is all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

in which the sea speaks of the fish

via oceanic bluetooth

Here it is again. 

That fishwoman creature. 

It was standing there last week staring at me as I was sending a thumptumbling wall of my strength towards the edge. She knows when I may be tempted to crack her bones and she did not come in, just stands there. That is unusual, I had thought she would come in anyway.

 It is rude to stare especially when one cannot control oneself and the wind and all the other things make one mighty angry and then one has a tantrum of sorts you could say, and one expels all ones contents up in a convulsion no I couldn’t help that but still it stared with no expression whatever. Just looked and looked.

I know she is disguising her expressions she thinks I don’t know that. 

What she does not know is I can see inside that weedy head of hers, or perhaps she does know?  I am not bothered: after all I am more concerned about supporting life on the planet and this is merely a small diversion for me the mighty oceanic.


I wish the fishcreature would decide what it is. It goes away and then comes back to me. It will come to me endlessly here yet every single time goes back to the edge and out it gets, any creature with half a brain can see that it does not move in a very elegant fashion on the land. Yet look, it can shoot about as smooth as a whiting when it is here with me, only coming up to the surface all the time: should learn to breathe water like any self respecting oceanic creature.



And this nonsenses it insists on putting upon itself, this stuff neither flesh nor hair nor bone, not weed or scale: I always pluck it off, as best I can , it even pokes things into its earholes I’ll have THAT I said and pulled them out , spat them at the edge pfft just like that.

 It covers its head and eyes: I take them too, I wait until it is dreaming then I curl over and peel them from its head, I let free the weedy head, just like that. It does get angry then, when I take its eye covers, it spits and hisses, and I laugh. Sometimes it pretends not to care at all but I know. I’ll have those, I say and whoosh, I have them and I hide them in the clouds of sand way down.



When its ears are unblocked then I can get in its head, into its earholes AND LISTEN VERY CLOSELY TO THE NONSENSE.



But it always comes back to me.

Yesterday it came way way out so I turned on a very fine show of curling waves and it seemed most pleased and inclined to stay. But it asked very politely or me to take it in, so I did, despite myself. I even combed its weedy hair for it and stood it nicely on the edge, she has no cause to complain. Not even when I tried to pull it by the feet backwards, that was only small.


A debt: she says I owe her a debt, but I dispute that. Well, I dispute it today. She said, I will give you anything if only. Yes I will admit she has given, but so have I. Could have crushed her many times with the white waves, but I have not. She thinks I have something of hers. 

That may be so, but I did not take it from her, no. She gave it me.

I am just the place where  things end up, where things come to, where she comes to talk in that silent way, we all are together then she, me, the fish and all the small lights that went out early, we are all here and she knows it.



She tried to hide in the rock pool in the storm and I will admit, I reached in and searched around but she is quick and deep and knows too many of my tricks. Next day I pretended to be  uninterested, for she had brought her calf, the calf swims along fine in the nimbus-shaped space besides the fishwoman, where she is safe they swim in time, they are like the humpbacks moving along, the cub and the half fish moving along like one though the smaller does not cover the head and lets her silver weed hang down, I like that.  Far more respectful than placing a cover of that offensive stuff on one's head. It is the same stuff which tangles me up and makes me ill, it tangles up the seabirds and kills my best creatures, now I have great tracts of the stuff here and there. Next time I won’t just make naked her head but all of her: lets see how she likes that.



Here she is again, dreaming: it is not light enough for her to be here, the sky is barely orange on the edges but she has come here to me and not skulking in the rockpool. That pleases me mightily.

Today she has given me a stone, and some words, so I will ruffle the sand and make plumes.

 She is dreaming: I can hear her dreams.

Perhaps once she was a whiting? I cannot be sure. She certainly has the same expression as a whiting. Same long face.


It is going to the edge, leaving, climbing out and away

one day I will keep it.