smoke on the water
she goes off sometimes, far away inside herself. after some hours, maybe she comes back – usually smelling of woodsmoke + seasalt.
sometimes her face is serious, carved out in melting ice . . . or it is soft, like worn driftwood, or it is peaceful + sifted, like sand.
along the horizon, a sweep of undecided clouds ask a certain question. but she knows it can’t be answered in thought. the shorebirds dip + dive, searching. they come up digesting.
the fire is hot + quick because of a rapid wind, which blows from the northeast, off the sea. thin shakes of cedar rip the flames aggressively with such cheer + determination. then, pine two-by-fours recycled from her boyfriend’s garage get tossed in. then finally, driftwood. the warmth casts a burn on her legs, but she cuddles in close anyway.
she has drawn a circle around herself in wood. and in the centre, burning, more wood. it is eating itself alive, as she watches. a mesmerizing connection kindles within her spirit.
what does she look for? nothing. what does she say? nothing. what does she think? not much . . . her thoughts meander across her mind, like the clouds over the vast quiet sky. her thoughts are like the waves of the ocean beating upon the shore . . . repetitious, undifferentiated + rhythmic.
sinking into the sweet solitude, with its little crescendoes of anxiety, she breathes herself home to her body. she breathes in smoke, lets it wash over her head and her whole body. later on, she will arrive home with this scent sticking to her all over like magic.
soft + slow, it burns + smokes. the sky watches in silence.
the waves whisper the same secrets, again + again.
at some points, she lies back onto a big log and rests. it’s the perfect surrender, the grey toque pulled down over her eyes which want to see nothing, hands tucked into warm sleeves, mouth quiet, nose scenting the sea + the fire.
there is something to discover here – an innate knowing, something she forgot, something she might have banished from her body in order to save someone else. this feeling is apprehensive about coming back to her, but it wants to and so, it does.
it comes back like a longing unfulfilled. it turns + runs into her arms like her own lost childhood self, like an endless summer remembered. it rises like the memory of her grandmother, so long dead + yet alive, still alive, everywhere.
but it takes lingering here, to keep hold of it.
she lingers long in the fire circle, asking nothing, thinking nothing, being nothing, wanting nothing. in all this warmth of emptiness, something steady finds her + cleanses her, swallows her heart.
now she’s ready to walk back home.
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