Ocean

People say that we crawled our way out of the ocean and found a way to survive on land, evolved somehow.  So there must be some part of us that remembers that dark cold briny wet and wants to go back into the great womb of the world that bore us.  That delivered us up onto a forgotten shore and whose slow circulating deep cries out to the deep inside of us and pulls us back. 

I was thinking this as I sat up there on the deck and looked out and saw them down by the water’s edge.  They were holding hands and seemed to be so small and slow as they walked, with the whole damn Sea of the world behind them moving and shining coldly in its green even as the storm piled up far out and down to the horizon. The heavy air was pouring in from over the water, wet and as wild smelling as a song.  The air poured in and around them and they made their slow way through the salty thick and talked as if they would live forever and always be as they were, confident of the future and happy.  She was wearing her red shirt that fit her loosely and flapped like a flag and held your eyes when they had just been passing over and made you think if you had really ever seen red before you saw her wearing that shirt or if you were seeing it now as if you’d just been born. 

So people were always seeing new things around her. 

They made their way along the edge of the great deep green and didn’t seem to look at it once as if they remembered every piece of it from their long crawl out. 

I sat up there and watched them until they passed behind the edge of the wall to my left and after that I looked at the wall for a long time and went out into space somewhere in my mind, way out beyond the deep green that was in front of me and the storm that would break in a little while and soak everything. 

I thought about how I’m nothing but a small and slow-moving shape in front of the deep sea of green and at the bottom of a deep sea of air and at the top of the deep sea of my heart.

I thought about how the two of them and me and all of us really are Ocean deep and wild inside but sometimes we hide it or only see the top of it in each other. 

I thought like that for a long time until the glass door behind me slid open and brought me back.  It was Annie.  I smiled hi and the corners of her mouth stretched a little as she turned and closed the door.

“Join you?”

“Sure.”

She pulled a chair a little closer and sat down.

For a while we just looked out over the water and were quiet.  The wind had picked up.

Then I looked over at her, at Annie.  Every once in a while when I really look at someone I’ve known for a long time I start to see and hear and feel again the time that we’ve spent together and the places we’ve been.  So when I looked over at her and her far-looking green eyes that barely squinted just now as she saw the storm and studied it and I saw her hair as it fell short around her neck and her soft square of a face that would point right at you when she talked and was brave too, my mind ran back and back and deep into the ocean we shared, splashing out into it all.

We had floated on our backs in the rolling saltwater and seen the deep blue and the gulls flying.  Our arms were floating out and our hands had brushed but kept moving. 

We had stood hunched out in the hard cold because that was the only place we could go to talk right then and she had to tell me about her choice, about moving West just for the summer.  I had smiled and we had laughed about what was ahead for us in a few months but in my legs I felt vertigo and wanted to step back or grab something. 

We had sat and stared at the table when I told her about Papa dying and she hadn’t looked at me when I broke down and was shaking and couldn’t stop.  She had let me do that as if I was alone in the world but after I had finished she looked up and showed me in that look that I was not alone and couldn’t be.  Ever since that day I’ve seen a warrior inside her. 

And then almost a year later to the day when she told me about the accident and her sister and the coma and it was my turn to look away and let her be and then look up at her the same way, I did my best. 

So looking at her then, on the deck, those other times rose up in my chest and caught in me.

Her eyes were still far off on the storm as if she was sitting there alone.  I looked out over the water too. 

We sat there and looked out as if we were orphans of the world.

John and Sara made their way back along the beach; Sara’s red shirt was flapping so hard I could almost hear it.

“You know,” Annie started, still looking way off.  She took a deep breath.

“Yeah?” I said.

Now she looked at me and smiled.

“There’s so much beauty here and we can’t escape it.”

She laughed and pulled me into it.

And the rest of that day?  Well, it passed.

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