I had another dream … my feet were coasting over the sands of my favourite beach. I was alone, without the love of my life but there was peace.
Houses seemed deserted but they were soon left behind, even those that crouched on the dunes, encroaching ever nearer to the life-giving water. Even the detritus of man, the human stain, was almost absent in this perfect corner. Mine were the only footprints curving back to the domain of that other life, save for bird tracks, silvered whelk trails and the insect-scurryings of kelp lice. I wanted to sing, but the moment held me in its sacred silence, blue on blue, clothed in the coarse white linen of eons of sublimation of rock and shell. Eventually, words escaped my lips, I breathed out my hymn to the beauty around me as we began to sing together, the tuning fork struck somewhere deep down, vibrating in my core. I say we – it was a dream – because I had lost the thread of myself and together with those unseen ministers who are nearer to me these days, had began to climb a Jacob’s Ladder of melody, counterpoint, impossible harmony, to touch that untouchable realm.
Cold sea and the whale bones of an old wreck finally terminated this paean, its echoes dusting over the the rusty hulk with more dignity than it possessed. Another holy silence, separated this time from sea and kilometres from the silent dwellings, so that it seemed the wilderness had pressed its searing truthfulness into the moment. Somehow, this failure of man’s endeavour, this stranded surrender to the elements filled me with the wonder of transformation: a purveyor of the dirty goods of commerce had received the impressionist’s brush of soft lines, textured metal; bland colour had been released by a century of sea air to every expression of brown and red the eye could devise. My hand grasped the empty shell of a boiler, enjoying how it pulled at the skin, massaged every tactile organ as its hard carapace shed layer upon layer, becoming elemental again. The crumbling skin under mine, strangely redolent of dark blood, mineral, salty, dripped onto the waiting white shroud at my feet.
Humbled again, my knees touched the perfect white, my soul lifted in celebration of this connection of sea, sand, sky and silent ship. The shifting landscape held an unspoken communion, contained the memories that had been deposited here, multiplied a thousand times, mingled with my own that flashed, unscanned over the surface of this suspended time. It was as if the wreck was reading me, locating me on its long-perished chart under the ancient gaze of the cantankerous navigator, who probably refused to leave the ship the night it foundered in the howling storm. The watching mountains dismissed me from this surreal introspection, turning my face toward the living again.
Languid steps, crumpling sand, tang of drying seaweed, delicious cold of the ever-moving face of the sea brought me back over dune to the hard black artery that would convey me to the waking world. Then, voices, at first mocking then screeching insistently, revealed the guardians of this threshold. They wagged violent fingers at me, hurled clashing sounds, spears which I deflected with the shield that peace had granted me, threatened to leave their towers of nihilistic self-absorbtion to compel me into their narrow prison. The icy grip of fear contended a moment with the laughter rising from its well, then broke as I, imperiously, dismissed them with a wave. The perplexing, lingering sensation of the sublime and the jealous hand of entropy slowly brought me back, as the edges of the dream merged into something more substantial.
I cannot say how, but those banshee cries set every jewel that I had taken from that other realm into a breastplate of gold that I wear, now, unseen under my skin. They have placed in my hand a sword that I shake to ward off the grey souls who stalk this world.