By Jackie Leavitt
The bird circles once, twice, before it stops. It lifts up its shoulders in a movement-stopping shrug. It hugs itself, balling up before catapulting down, down, down to the surface of the water. Dropping, and dropping further. You are caught, mid-step, mid-heartbeat, captured.
Up! You silently say. Pull up.
But it continues on and on, until that despaired moment when it pierces the water and disappears underneath. And it doesn’t come back up. Ripples surge out, dipping violently up and down before settling still. Wind breathes empty along the surface. For how long? A breath? Two?
You are sure the sea has swallowed the bird up, claiming it as alms for its hungry depths. But then you are proven wrong as Poseidon spits it out. It bobs to the surface, looking around as if in surprise, it’s webbed feet treading the water triumphantly.
. . .
And then there is another instant when the sun sparkles on the open ocean and the horizon stretches up to meet the big sky. You glance up at the choppy blue water in front of you and, without will, you catch your breath. A tear-shaped body hovers in forward motion a few inches over the water. Your whole essence is but a witness. To what? A bird, looking at its rippling reflection set against the wispy cloud sky? A fish, launching out to the unbreathable air to escape jaws of its swimming mortality?
Seconds slow down in your confusion of the seemingly unreal. For how long? A heartbeat? Two? How far does it go? A few feet? A few yards? The moment catches the daylight and bends it. The object lingers, blurring between the beasts of sea and sky, skirting around gravity that desires ravenously for it to fall or fly upward.
The spell snaps in a crashing instant. With a flick of its tail, the fish twists itself back into its own abyss, under the surface. It had dared leave its underwater world to touch its heavens, the sky.
. . .
Where do these creatures live? The ocean? The air?
Here, the world has taught birds to swim and fish to fly.