AUGUST 15, 2004 (SUNDAY)
Standing at the Edge of the World
She stands at the bay and watches the heavy waves roll towards the black rocks. She still cannot separate the gray of the sky from the gray of the water: both remind her of sadness. She watches the lighthouse twirl against the twilight landscape, wondering if sometimes the sliver of light feels despondent against the gathering darkness of evening. The fishing boats are moving out from the pier – a group of incandescent spheres that draw a flickering line across the horizon. They resemble constellations in the distance, preceding the appearance of the first stars.
The marble wall separates the seacoast from the boardwalk. She clambers on top of the wall, pulling on his hand, seeking balance. They stand in defiance of the waves and the wind, the smell of fish and salt almost tangible in the air. She wishes they could stay frozen in the moment forever: two figures encased in her memory like stone sculptures. Sometimes she wonders why even his touch is transient nowadays, and she realizes that she is just waiting with bated breath for the next wave of stories to roll across her shore, to wash against the fine sand of her emotions and erase the footsteps he has left in his wake.
Sitting on Top of the Walled City
It’s a balancing act, walking the fine line between history and the present. I wonder how much these old stones have seen – watching structures rise and fall around it. Perhaps two hand spans wide, the moss-riddled stones are barely wide enough to allow my feet a firm grip. If they could speak, what stories could they tell me? These rocks, lined up in uneven rows like old men sitting beside each other on wooden benches just outside our house. I can almost imagine them surrounded by old afternoon light, with amber beer bottles sprouting around their feet like weeds. Perhaps they are playing chess, or another round of cards. Their querulous voices rise above the wind and the difficulties of speaking past their dentures; their sentences always start with, “You know, in the good old days, young people would never wear their skirts that short.”
And I would sit a bit straighter in my little corner of the universe, watching the branches of the nearby trees sway in the wind, my ears straining to catch the faint echoes of their voices.
It is always easier for them to tell us to move on,
As if they have just given us a compass
To navigate the unknown seas that we find
Our boats in. We caulk the sides with tar and pitch
And bail out water religiously,
As if it has become a new prayer for us:
“We will survive, we will survive.”
But there is always doubt, and sometimes
The clouds obscure the stars that point
The way towards the north.
In your dreams, the ring is always there
And it is always midnight
And you ask me what it means.
I can almost imagine the feeling
Of loneliness as you wander across the field
Searching for even his shadow
On the ground, or when you sat on the edge
Of the pier, watching the water reflect
Your legs dangling above the surface.
But most of all, I can imagine the band
Of silver on flesh, glinting like scales
In the moonlight.
Why are we always waiting for the dawn?
In the end, all we can do is run –
Footsteps pounding on the pavement
Like a thousand heavy drumbeats.
You never look behind when you run:
He is always in front of you.
His back is almost as familiar
As the lines on your palm
Or the blood thudding in your ears
Like the angry flapping of wings.