Monday, May 15, 2006

sea (s)hell

I have lived with the sea all my life. A street away, a tram trip, an hour's drive. Something that I've always thought of as an integral part of any life I might live. It's been the wild sea of the West Coast of the South Island, the oil-soaked sands of Taranaki, the harbours of Wellington & Auckland & Sydney. The tourist beaches of Queensland.

But I have never lived on its edge – or, more particularly, on a cliff that dropped sheerly down into it – before. & its closeness frightened me. Its hypnotic ability. Perched above Waitemata, the sparkling waters when the sun or the current full moon finds it & the weather is fine. But bring the rain, the clouds; & it acquires a depth – I unintentionally wrote death there first – a presence that is like living with a fatal disease that is trying to coax you into suicide.

Today I flew above it for over 2000 kilometres. Unable to be seen, the siren song lost beneath cloud, no need to put wax in the ears at 40,000 feet. & now, as I write this, it's about forty kilometres away, unseen, unheard, unhypnotic.

There are two Amiri Baraka poems that exemplify the extremities. The beginning of the first, The Turncoat, is how the sea usually is for me.
The steel fibrous slant & ribboned glint
of water. The Sea. Even my secret speech is moist
with it.
But over the past week it has been the end of the poem he dedicated to Gary Snyder, Way Out West, that has been calling to me.
Walking into the sea, shells
caught in the hair. Coarse
waves tearing the tongue.

Closing the eyes. As
simple an act. You float


Blogger rcloenen-ruiz said...

Lovely post, Mark. Hope you are doing well.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

"Even my secret speech is moist with it." Oh, yes.

12:44 PM  

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