There is a wall. On one side of it
the sea: alive, virulent blue,
never still, deceptive in the beauty of the colors
coding its depths. It hides
things; it hides
the complexity of life
that it is.
Near the sea is the sand, shifting.
A single organism at a glance; come closer,
come closer and it dissolves into its millions;
it will swallow you; it will warm your ochre skin
with the heat from the sun it has,
through the impossible distance,
borrowed and held on to; it will
burn the soles of your feet
as you run to the sea, it will whispercry
as you run, fleeing beneath your feet, sliding
closer to its imminent betrayal in the water.
In the sea is the whale, and like the sea
she has a thousand names. She sings
and the particles in your body know the song,
respond and pull you inexorably closer
to the edge of the water.
You do not hear her song. It has no words
as the dry land knows them,
because the ocean’s is another language altogether.
But the body knows this language
and speaks in tides
with the moon.
The language of sand is spoken far from the sea,
where water is only whispered of,
in the driest desert. The whale’s song bounces off the wall
but her eyes are closed in the pleasure of her singing
and she does not see,
she knows only
that another song comes back, entwines itself
around the first.
How does the whale know the song so well
as to send it
back? It has no eyes, no ears, no mouth.
It is cold and still sings back; it is built of old reflections.
On one side the sea; on the other, the mountains
made of rock: infinite particles of sand stuck together by something
unseen, by pressure; painted brown or black or grey or red;
covered again by the colors of the seasons:
green; taupe in the winter when the grass is drying; brown; white-spotted
black-stemmed aspens opening into green, yellowing, then orange leaves; white with cold,
then opening to the welcoming respite of spring
into untouched spectrums of wildflowers
combusting into being.
The colors of the sea remain unimagined by mountains, hidden by the wall.
The wall knows the songs of seasons,
echoes them around the strong rises in earth
and lets the sea sing its own changes.
The whale changes her song,
drawing different patterns to describe her
understanding of separations and forces in her surroundings.
Where are you standing, your body made up of water and earth and changes?
You, a particle in the midst of the chaos of moving worlds.
You are an envelope containing everything:
in your eye is reflected the universe, while
there you are
next to the sea; atop the mountain.
Every star beyond your reach, and you speak as if you know them, as if
they are the skin of your skin, part of your flesh; as if,
carbonized like diamonds, they adorn your fingers, infinitesimal and grand.
This is the story of your marriage to the universe,
this is the story of the wall that separates
and calls you
Words by Allegra Chabay. ©2000
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