Barnacle-Studded Buoy, Seattle WA, Aug ’20

A night-dark cormorant skizzed past us on a solid packet of waves. Some minutes later, he came back the same way.

You gripped with both hands alert and taut the unspooling line which plumbed the gloom. I had taken to wondering by and by when those hands would jump up and clamp into a vise our spinning-jenny world, or whether they would take in Earth’s stead Mercury, upon whose ermine gleam my pointer had alighted when we dewy sat gazing, as though it were finishing a plié. That wonder anew came to me, crouched on the wobbling sea, observing your dextrous manipulations.

In their capacity, your hands held a murderous energy, but the pleasing sight of barnacles studded into a nearby-adrift buoy served to keep the dread at bay. 

The line caught and my breath did too, but you dismissed both in your own flouting way. It tugged a few times more and I felt smug as you finally pulled back with verve. The reel quickened, hopping full of slate-grey wire at an accelerating pace. You wound and wound and the contour of the rod arced with electric passion. It held promise, provision, a triumphal satisfaction.

Another tug from below set you in oscillatory motion, and the action of the waves drove you into a vicious pitch. You grinned and gasped and the full light of life hit me when you turned to look upon my visage. I couldn’t move, frozen from what I at first thought was fright but realized further on was a sensation of historicity, like that felt by the partisans present at the Tennis Court Oath.

It was a comic image, immemorializable into English, French, or German, though I reckon Arabic could have handled it if pushed far enough, of you and this rod swinging around. The adversary unseen led the way. You toppled from your perch and I watched each component of your body in flight go by, unable then, and still now, to resolve all of flapping you into a single coherent image. Once down, you thrashed in the breakers and it was clear the murky threat had in fact angled you.

I hazard now guesses that you in your grasping desperation called out to me, but I had become lithic and could not traverse the remaining path out from this underworld to you. What I was ready for, all of a sudden, was a new lot in life, the destiny announced to me then to become queen at the king’s side, providing the jointure for which our ruptured realm ached. Who would be king of a mountain made of bones, I wondered as the oars swung shoreward in my arms, and can’t get that question out of my head today.