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Friday, November 23, 2007

tide

He sees himself as quiet. It has to do with his place in the world. The eyes he feels on his flesh are filled with bitterness. Perhaps it's only memory. But he stands as if waiting, and sits with his back to walls. He holds his breath because he's listening. Nowhere is safe.

It is an abiding solitude, sought out but regretted, the result not of some wounding too ancient for words to describe.

He finds the ocean, then. He strips and walks into the waves. He feels the cold slick waters take hold of his skin like ownership. The sand shifts beneath his feet until he swims. His breath comes deep and steady. Only when he moves is he not cold. If he slows, he sinks. He looks back and finds no shore. The sky is blue and sunless. He wonders how that's possible. The sea is flat. He wonders where he is.

It's been forever now, partly in the empty air, buried mostly in the silent cold opaque water. His arms stir up a thick slow spray that hangs for a brief moment in the air then settles onto the surface as if sliding down glass. He breathes through his mouth, and it is the only sound he hears. Meaningless. There is no wind. He slows, stops, paddles in place.

He can't just quit. He can't give up. He doesn't see how he can prevail, or even survive. But when he goes down, it will be because he is pulled, too long and too hard to finally resist. The face of the waters is vast, but there is an infinity of depth below him, and nothing to hold on to here. Not even the thin thread of some calling voice. He remains silent.

There was a time when the ocean was not salt.


J

2 comments:

G.W.C. said...

Jack,
You need to stay out of my head. Besides, you're not alone. If you check the other corners of the room you'll see most of them are occupied too.

Jack H said...

Me? I'm just a neutral reporter. We call on one another, he and I, out of mutual affection, and I report on him as fairly as I can. He's a troublesome friend, though. But he's a friend.

J