A still wet wooden oar left out on the seawall at sunset.
It has no pair. Is the other lost or dropped or is this one on the sea wall the lone survivor? Does it matter which is in the water and which is now on land? They are still apart.
How long do I spin in circles unable to navigate or find direction uncoupling?
How long do I sit, stunned and in disbelief as the oar just in our hand is claimed by the surface of the water and then the depths?
Foggy sky and blue tinted haze. Boats in the distance poke out like eyes glistening and alive. Thick moist smell of the sea.
Seagulls on the sand by a carcass of some kind, one right over a body as though standing guard. Another approaches, curious or for food, but the one protests with a sound more human than bird, screaming and pulling at the exposed body.
I swear that bird was not hungry. I swear that bird was clinging and trying to bring the other back to life. I felt for her as much as the carcass, more to be honest, because she was clinging to what was already gone, trying to breathe air into a body no longer filled with life.
Returning home, I browse my yard. A neighbor offered flowers which I asked for and wanted. There was vinca for ground cover and daisies too. Who can say no to flowers? On hands and knees I cleared some weeds in humid heat. I tried to loosen soil but instead realized that there is no room. I hadn’t been paying attention to the ones I already had. They need more weeding, thinning and water. “You want them to be spaced so you can appreciate each one,” my friend said but mine are crowded in on top of each other.
Especially the hydrangeas which are fighting for their lives. They simply need to survive the transplant this year. Next year, if they make it, they will grip the rocky soil and turn into a bush offering hearty blooms. This year, they are withering and weak. This year, they are shocked by unfamiliar ground. “Do you talk to them?” another neighbor asks.
“They are so ugly,” I think, “I don’t want to even look at them, never mind talk to them.” They are thin and brown where they should be green and strong. They barely flower and when they do the blooms die fast. It’s easy to love the flowers that are thriving, the perky lilies poking up and the rose of sharon opening plentiful each day.
I sit on the hammock and let myself be rocked. I am tired. The oar is an image I can’t let go of no matter what other beauty I see. I give it up to the sky because I have no answers and am tired of dwelling. I ask the universe to take it under her wing, to care for each one of the pair because I can’t. I might have to return here every day of my life to make this same request, to get assistance with all I have trouble putting to rest, with mysteries I am unable to fathom.
But what I can do becomes more clear. On my way to the hammock I make a ritual of whispering to the hydrangeas. Then I gently brush their base with the left hand and say, “You can do it.” I tell them how much I admire their tender roots making a new home. I promise they will get used to this place and even when they bloom I will remember, with pride, their rough start.
And as soon as I love them they stop being ugly.
Author: Christine “Cissy” White
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Trevor Murphy at Pixoto