By Jackie Leavitt The sailboat sits alone and empty, rocking back and forth on the ocean’s breath as the sun shines down on its white hull and the red buoy that ties it to place. The wind whines, asking for attention from the wandering-eyed sailor, […]
Month: April 2015
By Jackie Leavitt
How do you describe the indescribable?
What’s the point, really? You know before you start that you will fail. And yet we still endeavor.
We try to relate this wild, exquisite thing to other more common, relatable topics. Perhaps, we think, if we weave enough similes together, we can attempt to define the sublime.
Yet they all fall short, failing to capture it.
Such is the case with the bioluminescent Mosquito Bay within the island of Vieques, just east of Puerto Rico. We lower our anchor at the bay’s entrance, and all four of us climb gingerly into our inflatable dinghy, our path lit only by the stars simmering in the sky and the anchor light shining bright like the North Star, which will guide our way back. We paddle in silence, hearing the swoosh-swoosh of the waves rippling past the dinghy. The oars dip into the water, the resulting ridge seeming to reflect the moon on a moon-less night.
It is only as we make our way further into the bay, when that reflection grows in intensity, do we realize the luminosity comes not from the heavens, but from within the water itself. With each paddle, a slight glow billows out for a few seconds as it floats past our boat. It is the bioluminescent algae, dancing all around us with their energy sucked up from the sun.
I paddle forward, then back, and it looks like I’m waving a slow-motion flaming torch through the night air, shinning a light green-yellow, rather than a vibrant red-orange. I turn the oar to cut the water like a blade, and it seems like inverse ink painting on the flat, black bay. Even the dinghy’s wavering wake creates a gleaming ripple behind us. The sea creatures, lurking beneath the surface, leave trails around our dinghy with their sudden swimming darts, like squids squirting fluid to mask their escapes.
I run my hands through the water, backlighting my fingers into silhouettes. Small flecks of lightening sparkles cascade off as I rise my hands back up. But it isn’t enough, and soon I am breaststroking a path away from the dinghy, my body glowing. Square, green confetti swim down and vibrate in color as they attempt to escape my arm hair.
Can you see what I see? Can you see the magic, making the belief in fairies seem quite possible?
Why try, when any words or photos or videos will only provide a vague image in the reader’s head? To try is to fail. We have failed even before beginning.
And yet we still attempt.
Can you see it?
By Jackie Leavitt Solar deity, Why do you not turn your benevolent face upon mine, But rather prefer to scorch my skin, White in surrender, Now turned scarlet under your fury? Like King Midas, Your light touch turns Other glistening bodies golden, But mine, you […]
By Jackie Leavitt
Out on the deck, you can see the lumbering rollers gather their mass, swell up and ooze toward you, then under you, lifting the sailboat up in a side-to-side rock. If you were on a beach, you would be sure that they would soon break into a crashing, curling surf, pounding hard into the sand and seashells. But here, they seamlessly and endlessly roll on: There are other more interesting things for them to see than you.
In the cockpit, it’s easy to accommodate the shifting vertigo, perhaps because you can anticipate the rhythm, even when not gazing to the horizon. Standing, you can bend your knees, alternating for the sway from one side to the other like riding a Roman chariot across Poseidon’s waves. Even sitting or laying down, it feels like the boat is a larger, less-safe bassinet, gently lulling you into a suspicious sleep.
But below deck, you’re at the mercy of the boat’s pitching, throwing you from side to side like an earthquake out for vengeance for a long simmering transgression. The best way to move forward is like a staggering drunk: one step forward, pause for shifting weight, two quick steps forward, pause, another half step — then you’re tossed into the boat wall, your shoulder breaking your fall, as the ocean chuckles at your ill fortune: What folly for you to think you could walk on water.
* * *
The ocean belches and gurgles as the sailboat bobs and sways on the waves. Inside the boat’s belly, the stove swings on its hinges, dipping forward as the vessel leans left, and falling backward when it rocks right. On the burner sits solidly a pepper-and-copper-colored pot, filled three-quarters with water swirling clockwise in a whirlpool. And there, an egg hovers directly in the middle, motionless as a the world swivels around it.