Monday, October 19, 2009


An Everywhere of Silver
With Ropes of Sand
To keep it from effacing
The Track called Land.


The sea is a creature of opposites. And it has always seemed a creature, the female deity corresponding to the male sun. The sublime Russian version of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, in its depiction of a questionably sentient quasi-liquid world, brings this home.

Timeless and transient, absolutely monotonous yet infinitely various, caressing yet lethal. Above all, perhaps, solemn yet silly, a vast and inscrutable panoply contrasting with trivial sand and whimsically salty air.

The sea at night seems an affront, though, black-upon-black or death-within-death. Perhaps that is why sunrise and sunset are so much more striking at sea: rituals of redemption.

I have never allowed myself to live within two hours of the ocean. Some day perhaps.


Retriever said...

Why not? I have never allowed myself to live further than two hours away from it...

It's not just the sounds. but the play of light on it, different every day. And the sea birds. And the strange things washed up on the shore. And the hermit crabs and the fiddler crabs and clams, and weird spiny fish caught by fishermen who fish, therefore they exist. And the threat of hurricanes but the exhilaration of standing in a storm and wondering if a huge wave will slurp one up gone for good. And both shrieking with horror and fascinated at the sight of a beach and waves full of palest pink jelly fish in mid August. And those moments when one steps off a sand bar into deep water unexpectedly and the undertow grabs one suddenly and one has the sense of a lethal and irresistible force for the second before one scrambles somehow to safety back to stand in the shallower water. Good to be humbled as Canute was by the waves. And the relief of a breeze during a summer heat wave and wallowing in the shallows. And watching as three of one's kids under 4 all head for the water at once, none reliable swimmers as yet and deciding which to save first...panic that the beckoning sparkling waves will swallow them up . And peace and forgetfulness for a few minutes. The clatter and strife of daily life washed away. And huge cracking chunks of ice at the edge of the shore during particularly cold winters.

Sorry to blather on, but why would one ever retreat from that??? (and I have had my house flooded by the sea, so I have SOME reason to be wary of it, but I can still not bear to be far from it).

Anonymous said...

There's something paradoxical about the sea infinitely convulsing itself into seeming permanence. In contrast, the land always seems like a flimsy concretion; a convenient temporal reality - disposable and replaceable like its flux of inhabitants.

Anonymous said...

Two hours from the sea is a very good place to be.