Sometimes, a thought, a clear bell sounding and I almost remember the life I want to live before the day heaps itself into my arms and I forget, submerged in a day’s endless complications. I forget the words before they enter my mind, my tongue numbed and furred with repetition. The tepid light strengthens, a day full of plans and intentions beginning, only to be interrupted by small deviations- thousands of ripples beating against the backbone of the day.
As I set napkins for the midday meal, I am not present, my mind is replaying a dream on the back of my eyelids. Playing memories of ocean, dusty sand on my ankles, a nostalgia for what is yet to come.
At night I scrub myself clean. Watching as the raw flesh I shed circles down the drain. It is hard to endure the shock and habituation of each day, to stand still and inure the rituals of small talk, the incessant eating one must do to keep up in energy. It is hard to keep up. I dream of the water coursing through my veins, the pungent salt on my lips, wrenching me from my skin, absorbing me whole. Somewhere in my recesses of my mind, a boat is waiting, anchored safely, beating against the dock, restless.
A sudden disturbance in the night, a giant bird alighting across a dream, I wake with a shudder, the alarm diluted by familiar surroundings, their dullness seducing me back to sleep. But panic has seeped through, soaking me in its’ brine, sweat glinting in the moon’s pale light. My breathing is changed, short and shallow as I knock over ornate mirrors and frames, clumsily fumbling in the dark for keys, for the oblong door handle, for a way out of waking every day with each limb tired, knitted through, worn as an old shoe.
Into the cool night, the darkness a relief. Shivering madly, ecstatic in escape, yet feeling chased by my own skin, my feet know the way, hurrying forward, avoiding the bare-bulbed street lamps snaking their light towards me. That blind fury, ancient unnameable fear seizes me, clutching my body in its’ vise, a shrill alarm, disabling. That deep sadness, ancient unnameable desire, no, not unnameable, but unsayable, responds- a tender siren rattling my mind in its’ cage. The water in my body pulls me apart, threatening to rip the seams of my skin. Finally having reached the small pond, I dip a toe in, and the disquiet leaches out of me into the water. For now, I am tamed.
Early dawn when I awaken, unable to shake off the weariness, the sadness. Only the visitations help, retina flashes of the waves, cresting, looming. I no longer dream my dreams, inhabiting them instead, living them more fully than my life. I yearn for the feeling of sun beating on my chest, the sails of my skin pulled taut, changing the course of my life. I yearn to be pulled along, perversely out of control, to have the ocean invade me, violate me, to have the thrill of knowing that something is inevitable.
In the bath, she reclines, washing off the tyranny of everyday life. Her eyes fluttering feverishly under their lids as she thrashes in the hot water, the only sound the dripping of the faucet, the roar of the wind, as she treads water deliberately, weighed down by the swelter, joining that restless coil, tongues of the sun lambent on the ocean’s surface. The bottom of the sea calls to her, the seaweed bed flickering lazily in the shadows, slowly writhing for her.
She is swimming, she is sinking, now at the bottom, among the ocean’s dregs, the bioluminescent plankton in anarchy, raging. The skin fleeing from her body in droves, the carbon blooming in every blood vessel, bursting through.
There she lays, nestled in the seaweed where they strangle what is not there to strangle, and she is left, bloating, triumphant in the water.