Friday, March 5, 2010

blue blue water baby

This is it. My epic poem of staggering brilliance. Hats off to Auguste A. Bondy, Ivana Mikavica, the stars/ghost in the machine/amazing good fortune, and our collective national conscience for inspiring me to come up with it.

blue blue water baby

I had a dream you handed me a shell,
you said, and for a moment time slowed down
it was a lavender shell, it was smooth inside, there used to be a little ol' clam living in there.
I held it up to my ear, like a telephone, and everything went slow and still.
everything went quiet. I spoke to the bottom of the sea, or anyway it spoke to me.

I keep it close to my hand, the perfect shell, an old battle shell with lots of ridges and a smudge of lavender in the smooth inside. It rides with me in my pocket, so I can reach for it whenever I want,
hold it between my thumb and forefinger and caress the valley where the oyster used to live.

I'd intended to give it to you that one time, but then I didn't. You see, I don't mean to be selfish,
but it is the perfect shell. It is a telephone I use to call the quiet, during those times when this is all so much frenetic forward motion,

much like the time that I almost drowned, aged five or six, in an amusement park water-slide. I'm trapped under the raft, the water is moving so fast, either no one notices or they can't pull me up,
and I'm all skinny arms and legs banging against the sides of the flue and flailing at the water and I can't breathe and I'm thinking, This is it.
Right here and right now, I am going to die.

So I just give up, and I let it take me where it's going. There is nothing I can do except wait.
Down, down, and then I hit the bottom and wash out into the calm blue pool below,
and I still can't breathe but finally nothing is moving, my eyes are open and do you think there is sound at the bottom of the ocean?

Other than the pressure bending you into pieces, that is --
But if you could go down there without getting crushed like a tin can, if you could stay alive-and-well,

hang out with the anglerfish and those little plant-animals who live on top of volcano vents waving their riot of tropical color at the pitch-dark --
is it all silence, like the PBS documentaries would have you believe, or does it sound like when you put your head under the water in a bathtub or hold a conch shell to your ear?

Because I know what it sounds like, at the bottom of the sea, and from what I've heard so do you.

I was a born a blue blue-water baby, not breathing, on the cusp day of Pisces and Aquarius
on the shores of a Great Lake. They smacked the life back into me, brought me up quick from the deep dark, and I think that's why
I'm so bitter sometimes -- because they brought me back.

Because I'd heard what it sounds like at the bottom of the ocean. It's quiet. It's slow. It's still.

Though up here, among the quick, we are all either caught in the current or walking a stretch of sand alone,
I have faith that you will continue to walk down this beach, by yourself, in the quiet, with your hands in your pockets and the sound of the waves to keep you company. You will find it, your own perfect shell --

maybe many perfect shells. Fill your pockets if you can, if you feel the need. If you keep looking, keep walking, you will find your own perfect shell, or more than one perfect shell, in fact it will find you

and you will hold it, between your thumb and your forefinger --
you will hold it, caress it, get to know it, the little valley where the oyster or clam used to live, and you will have faith in it.

It will have faith in you too. It will sleep under your pillow like it once slept under the waves. It will keep you company. It will keep you safe. You will find the perfect shell, if you keep looking. If you keep walking this stretch of sand.

And you can use it to call the bottom of the ocean. You can use it to call the quiet. You can use it to call me.

Because I at least find it comforting sometimes to hear you aren't just casting pebbles into an indifferent ocean.

Well, I mean -- you are -- we all are, so am I. But the ocean is never indifferent. And when you heave a bottled message out as far as you can and it washes up down current,
near where I have pitched a chaise lounge in the middle of an expanse of sand and am buried under layers of blankets, alone on the beach
I often find it, crack it open and I think, Ah, how interesting. I shall take this with me later, when I go diving.

Out here it's all just blue blue water, baby -- so you don't need to fear getting drowned.

- joy wagner

No comments:

Post a Comment