Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I was a pale girl with golden ringlets, a nose much too big for my young face; my parents called it Roman, and I called it Rhinoplasty (even youth could not hinder my blossoming cynicism). I was an odd girl; I saw fairies in the flowers and flying fish in the river that swam past our forest-bond house. My father wove us tales of talking rabbits and read us stories about long, lunar love. My mother shoved our naked nates out the back door and told us, concisely, lovingly, not to come back in for three hours. So we ran through the thickets, tanning our hides, stretching our doe-y limbs. We jumped in the amber waters, reaching our arms for the sandy, dark depths. We relished in our timbered, lively freedom, our tender years.
In our hidden palace the windows facing the backyard were sky-high, floor to ceiling stoic, staring portals that glowed during the day (a wonder, a spark) and frightened me in the dark. I would lie facing them for fear of the unknown; in the still moments just before sleep they sometimes showed me sweet, worldly secrets and slipped me into glistening, fancied dreams.
In my eyes (a burst of butter, a mellow green) there is a beach and a clean horizon. It is the morning somehow, new and fresh and smelling of opals and oceans. The beach is Odiorne Point; it is small, a tidy corner of the New Hampshire coast, and if one looks out, they might see a miniature lighthouse on a pile of sepia rocks. The waves here are colder and smooth and unusually clear. The sand is powder and the air is a swollen skin, sheathing umbrellas and bones in its viscid, shining sinews.
Everything is light in this world; the waves wink and shine and the trees, branch of tinsel, leaf of gold, rise in a slow, glistering gambol. A rosy vesper, a drop of sun, I am alone with the blankets and buckets of souls past. A thought, as weighty as thunder, crawls up my neck: how did I get here? The long grass whispers behind me, an answer and a push: it is mine, this is my world.
In the blushing luster I step forward. I taste the salt that rides the atmosphere, I see a crest of water. Rich foam slides towards my toes and I gather it with cupped hands and it disappears faster than I can remember. My fingers stick in the aftermath and as I kneel, rubbing them in the sand, particles of mountains, through earthen histories piled lightly, I see a flick of red, a glimmer and a flare - in the corner of my left eye, perhaps a trick. I draw it into focus and it blinds me. I crawl towards it, hot knees and hot palms. Tucked in a pocket of shore, before the flutter of my breath, lies a ruby as big as my heart and as small as alone.
I pick it up with a tightness in my throat and hold it with that tightness in my arms. I stand and the wind lifts my hair around my face, and in my mouth saline strings meet saliva. The strand in front of me heats with the movement of the planet, the tides, and undulates from the force of feet gone by; moving through the day I see spots of vermillion all around me on the shore, in the rises, between the divots, like cherries in vanilla ice cream, and I collect them. My dress sags and smarts with the burden of this riddled treasure that is all my own and I stop at the rocks that barricade the sand from the impending water. With a start and a smile I throw my jewels, my stolen secrets, precious gems, glowing memories into the steel waves. A mist, and their mass and they are gone.
The sadness that I feel is like the edge of the afternoon, in the receding light when the shadows hold a long loneliness, a knowledge of something you can never have again; I understand now that this world of sultry chance and friscalating, pellucid ethers is nothing but a mirage, an ocular, nocturnal reverie. The rays dismay me as I lift my lids, and I look at my father who is shaking me and he tells me, with a twist of his lips and the gleam of an eye, that there is no reason to think that what happens in the darkness, inside your body, between the hours, the atoms and your brain, is not real. Who says?