I am visited by the dead in my dreams; I speak to them in dreams. A friend came last night. He said nothing or little, and I had no idea who he was until I was taken away to damp sheets and hard-kicked blankets. We had been walking along the seashore. The air was a muddy azure in that opaque way the sky and sea coalesce to form a painting’s texture. The waves lapped against the sand with a tender “shhhh,” the sort of energy an elderly woman releases when soothing a child. Everything was serene. There was nowhere to go. A somnolent calm and kindhearted breeze, time corked in a dream, I felt free, disrobed of masks and pretense. My dead friend who withheld his identity was a paradise of harmony. Then, it was time to go. He pulled away from the shadow obscuring my recognition. Instantly, I knew him by the pain that brought him to this beach. His lacerated soul had been swallowed by a tortured heart, a tormented mind, a fragmented life. This pinched emotion yanked me back into myself with beaded sweat. My friend was abandoned, again alone.
How did I find this beach? Was I drawn, pulled, or did I slip through a fence with no gateway?
Was that my friend?
A man stood along the shore alone. What was he doing? Why was he here? What did it mean to stand on the beach alone? I wondered if the man is loved and then I wondered why he didn’t eat breakfast. I wanted to know this man, his every detail, the story that brought him to the beach. I could go ask him, I supposed, but then he wouldn’t be a man alone. Maybe this man is a reflection. I looked behind me and saw no one else.
Maybe this man had no name. Maybe he was as much a part of the local geography as the sand and water. A fixture. What if that man was me?
A young couple held hands looking for sea shells. They are in love, I thought. They are together. Are they two? Or is the couple one? Do they know the sound of the other’s laugh? How many ghosts walk with them? How much do they share with each other? Or is their life inhaled like a single breath flowing into two lungs? Some questions, I thought, are more meaning unanswered. Like, what is love? There was no one behind the couple and they walked towards the empty horizon. Where are they going? Are their hearts burning within?
Four empty chairs face a common point. When was the last time they were all occupied? Have they always been alone? The sound of the waves entertains empty chairs. What does the sea share when No One sits in empty chairs? In the cold, vacuous provinces of the universe, only this No One and that No One knows the meaning of this spot, the place where a living ocean touches a garden’s shore and a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Maybe these chairs seat the Divine council. Was the extra chair left for me? Have I conquored? I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I...sat down with my Father on his throne.
There’s a gallery on the beach. Water-sculpted dunes rippled by tide and times. Who claims to be the artist? Who paints grains of sand? Am I the only one who looks down at my feet the way an art student looks at a canvas? Surely not. But I will probably be the only one to regard this puddle as the work of your fingers.How much of this world is that unheard voice? There is no speech, nor are there words…yet their voice goes out through all the earth. Why are we deaf to your mystery and see only pretty and winsome?
I wish I knew where clams came from. How do they build such an elaborate house? From where do they gather materials? And then, with their houses constructed, by what form of locomotion does a clam move from place to place? The clam that I found surely did not come out of the sand. Not from nothing. It did not plop down between two branching troughs. Did a storm push it here? Most questions don’t have answers. I thought about opening up the clam, but I remembered a blue fish I once opened. I had scaled the fish and stuck its belly with my knife. The blade was sharp and slid through the fish like a hand pushing water. When I peeled back the filet, the fish’s belly bled with half-digested fish. Fish inside of fish. I looked back at the clam and wondered again about the insides.
What’s inside of me? Who? Can I stomach gutting myself open? How much do I want to know?
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