The Ocean

I was born a landlubber, on the edge of a desert. Can't swim, never could, never will. I can splash around in shallow streams, small ponds, chlorinated pools with ladders -- but the ocean?

The ancient mapmakers were right -- "here be monsters!" The sea contains everything that washes off the puny continents and spawned everything that crawled ashore. Vaster than imagination, more eternal than air the sea quenches volcanoes, builds clouds to flood the land, births wind and dominates all on the planet we wishfully call Earth.

I stand against the sea breeze at lands end and feel it's mighty mystery, dumbed by feeble comprehension, numbed by its cold breath, with hollowed awe my paltry acknowledgment of its presence.

The blood in my arteries is a stepmother to my life now that I've left home. Every cell in my body is nursed in ersatz ocean. The scary magnetism of reunion, like peering over a cliff into an abyss, requires an act of will to resist. The ocean moves with life, teams with life, laps the shore ceaselessly, pounds the beach casually and ravishes the land capriciously.

I avoid its queasy surface, ponder its silent black bottoms, and sometimes bravely wade its barest fringes. The sea is the Tao of the material world, a koan of life/death, the unaskable riddle, the incomprehensible answer. The salty sum of all elements its brine is tasted before you see it, was present before you were born.

I need to feel all this alone, without the comfort of company, so that these notions return newly born every time I stand on the shore.

WORDS