The Sea

Have you ever watched the sea? I’ve only really watched it from the shore, and not that even that much.

It moves like breath. In, out. Like the back of a child, up, down, as it sleeps in its crib. A heavenly hand caresses it with cloudy touch. In, out.

Dreams sleep there. Water fairies and krakens and pirates and the sky. The sea holds our dread, and it holds shores.

What are those shores worth? I wonder. Shores of sand and coconuts and spears and trading companies and rifles and gallows. Shores of magic. The cloudy hands hold those too.

From the shore, the stormy sea seems not so stormy. But get out on it… Have you ever felt a strong undertow? That restless babe is but a drowning factory. A toilet. A grave, pulling on you like time, and you tromping and splashing to escape.

Or the calm. You don’t meet that on the shore. The shore is always breathing, trading its woody fares for foreign winds and unearthed sea bottoms. And death.

And what is land but death, anyways? Porous, petrified, stillborn Adam. And here we are to work it.

I have never seen a calm sea. I suspect it’s a lot like death. No breath, just space for the walking room of your thoughts. We were all made for that place—where the water stops breathing and the wind doesn’t wander.

But were we made for that place? Is the sea made for calm? Wet movement upon stone. Waves and waves and restless weight. Like my six year old.

And like the rain to the rivers—beading and dripping down, down, down—all our lives go to the sea. And don’t get all uppity. The sky is the sea too. We drip down to the sea, to the very edge of the shore, and we fall in.

I’m not sure if it’s time or fate or possibility or creation. It’s something, and it doesn’t seem to want me to define it. But I suppose that’s just like anything God makes. And as I try, it breathes, in and out, and it sleeps and angers and dies.

Life and death are like the sea. But what can I tell, really, from this Adam? Maybe someday, God will walk me down to the shore, draw me by the hand in, and take me down to its depths.

 

 

 

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

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Traps

A rubber-clad fisherman stared into the ridges of a corrugated sea. A filament line speared the water below. He glanced into the sky, squinting against rain droplets, the wrinkles at the edge of his eyes groping toward his gramophone ears like fingers. The clouds had darkened to charcoal. Pulling his raincoat tight, he picked up a Styrofoam cup half filled with cocoa-colored soil. He stood, gathered his line, and turned from the ocean. Drizzle wet his cheeks, and he pulled his coat tighter. A few gulls accompanied him, cawing like lunatics and interrupting the waves’ rhythmic weep. One of them lit at his heels but soon rejoined the rabble, having found nothing but footprinted gull droppings. The man’s eyes passed over splinters and paint peels, and the plunk of his footfalls echoed as he stepped, stepped, stepped the forty feet from the edge of the dock to the threshold of his front door. He leaned his bamboo rod against the hovel, set his cup on the planks below, and disrobed, hooking his coat next to the door under a bit of roof. When he entered the one-room home, his daughter sprang with a shout from the three-chaired kitchen table, tackling his waist with a hug. The musk of wild mushroom soup followed her. The man’s wife, her back turned as she tended to their wood-burning stove, quicked a peripheral glance at his empty hands. He sat at the table, near the stove’s warmth, where he found a crust of this morning’s toast, leathery from the humidity, and chewed on it. His gaze ambled to the peg legs of another chair, where he noticed a jiggling black dot. A spider was thatching a tear in its invisible net. Behind it, a June bug hung, like a Summer Flounder, waiting to be filleted. After mending its net, the spider shouldered its meal and stole away, under the seat and out of sight. It returned unburdened and crept to a corner of the web, where it stilled, waiting.