Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thirsty Sea Demon

Beyond the sliding glass doors, a rickety dock extends into the water like a wooden tongue thrust from the mouth of the little modular home to probe the briny blue. The rectangular frame of the house and its petite stature make it seem to be hardly more than a box of animal crackers perched precariously at the lip of a swimming pool made to churn by riotous children. Its paneling is light tan, the trim around the sliding glass door is white. The flat roof supplies a scant awning from which a few potted ferns and a spider plant dangle.
There is something of a small porch here, barely wide enough to accommodate a lawn chair composed of yellow and blue plaid vinyl lattice. Four wooden steps drop down from the porch and connect the house to the dock. The dock itself is dark with moisture, its many thick round barnacle covered legs reach down into the hidden green depths. Each plank is wide and riddled with Swiss cheese holes flanked by rusted iron bolt heads. The wood is interrupted by weathered lengths of thick double braided rope interlacing the planks. Along one side, an ancient mariner’s net hangs rotting like the veil of some gargantuan maritime witch. The wind whips wildly about, agitating the surf and setting a wind chime hung near the spider plant into an ecstatic frenzy of jangling.
The waves rock the old dock violently. Above their dark blue orgiastic rampage, high cloud cover darkens and creeps from horizon to shore at a snails pace, driving them increasingly into greater excitement. They grab at the little dock and rock it like the eager and ungovernable hands of a giant.
Out at the end of its length, a woman is balanced with her long legs poised in a wide sprawl. It is the caricatured stance of a cowboy in a standoff. The muscles of her calves, legs, and thighs work to keep her braced atop the dock. The white shorts she wears encapsulate and just barley conceal her tensed buttocks. Her canary colored open necked sweatshirt hangs from one shoulder, revealing the lines of the white racer tank top worn underneath.
In one hand, she holds a dark green corked bottle, raised outward as she shouts commandingly into the wind and at the wall of waves. With the free hand she gestures to six or seven terra cotta pots arranged in a semi circle around her at the docks end. Some of the pots are empty, while others contain only black soil and the withered remains of some long dead plant.
A few are home to sickly pale twists of Jade, made unhappy by their exposure to salty sea spray. They are of various shapes and sizes. Some are in perfect condition. Others are stained and chipped and bear painful long cracks in their sides. Her long blond hair ripples on the wily wind currents, hovering around her head like a flame atop a candle’s wick.
Before her, the waves are suspended, looming over her comparably delicate body and the rickety deck. They have almost assumed the shape of a body, trembling with agitation. With aqueous creature mouths they seem to grin maniacally, then grimace, pointed ears of water flattened back like the ears of an angry cat, while the rest of the surrounding sea continues to froth and churn violently. It wriggles in animated swirls of surf, cerulean laced with white foam, directed upward and held together by supernatural force. In this awkward state of suspended animation, it listens intently to the woman’s shouting, and thus restrained, it watches with anticipation, the whole of its attention captivated by the green bottle of wine and the definitive gesturing.

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