Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ride

So Sam climbed up the back of Tom's shell as quickly as he could before the pair of old boys swam off.

After a last look at the rock Sam had called home, they passed the corrals and skimmed the edges of the school of sardines.  Soon they arrived at the surface, resting on the quiet side of the foamy wave belt called "the break zone".

Dorothy had just caught a wave and she looked magnificent.  Her boys cheered as she shimmied her body and nosed onto the giant tunnel known as the "green room".  Her slick silver body flew forward like a spring leaf departing the tree while cradling a drop of rain.  She turned back waving to her boys and Sam like a proud champion.

Sam felt an excitement he had never experienced before.  Last time he met Dorothy, high tide had pushed him dangerously close to the shore.  Dorothy had kindly carried him back to the glassy waters behind the surf zone after realizing his pending perils at the beach.  She was just a young dolphin learning to surf then, friendly yet shy, strong yet a bit clumsy.  Sam happily looked on as she expertly taught her boys about waves.   Sam closed his eyes to feel the breeze and shut out the shiny bright sparkles bounced around the surface, imaging a pair of wings carrying him away faster than the waves and higher than the surface of the ocean.

A few seconds later he paused when he realized he had indeed taken flight.  The world darkened despite of his attempts to open his shells wide. He couldn't see or feel the comfortable weight and embrace of salty water.  He smelled of rotten fish, decaying leaves and broken bones and torn branches reminiscent of the shorelines near the beach.   Yet he found no rocks, corrals or sea creatures to cling to, the confinement that carried him, the rising sense of danger, the stifling air smelled of... He realized then he was in the pouch below the mouth of a pelican.   As his consciousness restored, he recalled hearing the anxious screams of his friends below, from Dorothy, from her boys, from Tom and even the faint sound of his neighbors' nervous clicks and clacks.

Though he wanted to scream, cry, punch or bite, he somehow couldn't muster the strength or the will.  What could a little clam do when a giant bird carried you away as his prey?  Even among clams, Sam counted as rather lazy and pessimistic, unwilling to treat life's events as opportunities.  Just look where it had gotten him when he took a chance for the first time in his life!  He should have stayed below the rocks around the corners of darkness, hugging the underbellies of the ocean watching the busy crab scratching away his life, the bits of corral reef before them and everyone elses' ear drums. 

But he wondered, sometimes.  That faint sense of dread visited when every routine was down to sand grain level precisions.  He knew any creature who had a shred of sense would have just ignored it or swam up to the next lively reef.  But some nights, when he found the moon light came in through the waters like a knife piercing through sheets of glass, he felt the silent voice of the "purpose" loomed louder than the oceanic storms and all his neighbors combined.

Well it looked like "purpose" or not, he was about to find out. He sighed deeply as life flashed before him.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bitten

I took a walk on the beach the other day, and I came across a perfect set of shells.  It sat in the sand split nearly into halves but not yet.  When I picked it up, and held it to my ears, I heard the sounds of the ocean.

I wondered if it had heard me approaching, my limping, achy, yet persistent struts, or my son's skips and hops, his high pitched squeals of excitements.  Someone had cleaned out the animal inside, leaving the interior perfectly shiny and smooth.  Perhaps a combination of the waves, sand, and whatever predator had taken it as food or a grain to form a new part of the ocean.  In any case, all that was left in the sand on that morning was the pretty housing without a trace of the spirit inside.

Or perhaps it lingered somewhere.  As a slight shift in the wind, as the grains of sand that rolled before surrendering to ocean's tug and pull, leaving tracks of its retreat behind, if only for a moment.  Or perhaps, as the story I heard as I walked on with it stuffed into my pocket.

Let's call him Sam, as the voice was of an older male, he told the tale slowly, deliberately, with an ounce of sadness, but mostly it contained carefully concealed excitement.

The story began at the bottom, of ocean that is.  It was dark, damp and always moving, just the way clams likes it.  Sam had lived there for only a few month, but he had settled in nicely with his new neighbors:  Carl the crab, and Sally the starfish.  Sometimes Carl's insistent clicking and clacking as he crawled about the rocks and debris gave Sam a migraine but he didn't mention it to anyone.  He secretly admired Sally's fancy outfits, but he simply smiled and nodded whenever their path crossed.

In the rock pile not too far from them, lived the sea anemones and their busy body house guest, the clown fish.  They can create so much noises and stories, Sam stayed clear of the hubbub of activities they called their center.  There lived many other types of residence in that corner of the ocean floor, but Sam didn't like to butt his nose into other creature's business and kept to himself most of the time.  

One thing he did cherish was the times when Tom the sea turtle would cruise by, without a care in the world, smiling and waving as he went.  Sam could feel his pulse slow down (almost to stillness) as Tom's elegant motion spread through the waves, and his worries fade away as softly as the last ray of sun that glided across the glassy surface above them hours earlier.

Time didn't mean a lot when life repeats in a circular pattern.  Sam lost tracks of the number of days and nights since Dorothy and her dolphin family came around last.  So one morning when he woke to their impossibly joyous cries and sound of their flippers splashing in the waves, he shook off his plankton filled dreams to check out the actions nearer to the surface.

He had to catch a ride so he asked Tom.

"Why old Sam, you want to ride to the surface and watch the dolphins?"

It wasn't like Tom to be surprised at anything, let alone asking about it.  But then again, it isn't everyday when the shy clam volunteered to ride to the surface either.  Sam preferred darkness, quietness, and stealthy feasting to bright lights and showy entertainments.  Everyone knew that and for the most part, they've tried to accommodate him most of their lives.

However, something gnawed at Sam that day, he explained. It was the closest he'd ever been bitten by a travel bug, other than the times he got carried away helplessly by the changing currents, of course.  Tom shook his head in amazement, but being a kind and gracious turtle, he agreed to take Sam up without further delay.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Food Court

Hoping between spots that are either too windy or too sunny, I finally sit at the Goldilocks of tables facing an infinity pool of fountains.

"He facebooked me,
he friended me,
he posted something to me,
...
he unfriended me.
....
whatever, whatever..."

The girl at the next table recounts the drama of her e-life, her hands cupping her drink, as if that too, would fly by like the wind blown pieces of napkins, never knowing when or where it will find a settlement.

Her dark hair flies up with the wind, momentarily melding into the colors of her dark eyes, flickering, wincing, then peering up and down at the world without seeing, without realizing the one next her staring and taking notes.

"What about those back-end stuff?" Three men in T shirt and shorts pushed around the metal chairs enough times to form an infantile attempt at the Requiem. When the screeching finally stopped, they popped around words like "hybrid systems, storage building..." -- terms I'd rather forget than perpetuate. The clean cut dark haired chap talked in low soft bass tones, while his friend wearing long blond hair and dark glasses cuts through the whistling wind and the strings of other conversations in high pitch.

"Did you hear about so and so?" A middle aged woman walk up to them and patted on the shoulder of the blond. After a series of low murmuring exchanges, I hear her say:

"Oh yeah, she just got so tired of working with us...
we got bought out...
competition... ruthless..."

The men showed no signs of slowing down. In fact, food disappeared rapidly as they nod in collective silence. The woman finally bid them goodbye, and after she turns a corner, they burst into chuckles and resume their shop talks in the rise and fall of voices.

I look up from my table, the swaying palm trees are backed by nothing but a perfect patch of blue, next to a hundred year old oak. If I concentrate, letting only the breezes and colors guide me, I find myself transported to a square of beach in Hawaii, with only the sound of hula dances accompanying the symphony of nature.


But my brief escape dissipated when voices shuttle me back into reality, as more men arrive in varying office attires discussing "interfaces, applications, systems, competitions..." and tossing around the general vocabulary of office gossips.

Without walls as white as envelops or water coolers that has gone stale since the Hoover administration, somehow I find the ghost of office space surround me.  They shroud me with their shadows and their words, their discussions of the first day of another week of rat race, of friendship and love, of found and lost, much like the tables about us -- everyone searching for their version of the perfect fit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tree Mother

It ought to be spring,
when soft pedals of blooms
race to cover the winter torn branches
of mountains and valleys.
Yet I have
the golden crunches of fall
under my feet in the garden.
Puddles of yellow tear drops,
from a mother
shedding her last layer of the past,
in exchange
for a chance
to bear all her hollowness
and scars
into a newly scorching sun,
the occasional pelting rain,
and always whistling wind.

From the low dampness of the ground,
the fallen leaves
smiled up
against a shiny blue sky,
blinking into the colors of rainbows,
missing none but mother's brown arms,
worn yet outstretched,
thin but fruit bearing,
labeling
experiences of standing tall
in the storms, while humbly bowing
towards the transformational calls
of the season.

But wait,
they said. Riding
with the wind towards her feet, huddling
close, against her brittle
creases, thirsty roots,
and fading scent
of sap,
warming her
over patches of thinning soil,
breaking into pieces
under impacts of unforgiving steps.

As wind rose,
and clouds congregate,
I look upwards into a weeping sky,
for signs of redemption of the fallen.
Will time bring them back down
to the depth of soil,
and will rain carry their ashes
into the tendrils of her thirsty roots?
Will their lingering essence,
rejoin the warmth of her vein,
and charge up the length of her trunk,
reaching onto the top
of her canape
once more, in celebration
of their return
as a brand new child of Spring?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Connection

Kevin, my seven year old nephew, sauntered up to the sleeping bunny, looking around to make sure no one's looking.  I ducked my head into my book, pretending to be immersed in the scene I am reading.

The bunny stretched out on her lazy chair, a spot low and soft to help her recover from the her surgery yesterday.  Her white ears twitched at the sound of boys playing noisly upstairs.  But her pink rimmed eyes remain closed.

Kevin knelt down to watch her closely, holding his breath slightly at first,then exhailing into her soft hair, making them stand up at an angle.  The bunny opened her languid eyes just a sliver, struggling to stay awake, but no longer sleeping either.

A peanut lay nearby and Kevin picked it up and offered it to her.  She sniffed it.  That's what she's been doing, sniffing, but not eating.  The doctor warned us about this, she might die.  Their digestion system could shut down from the pain and she will die from starvation.  None of us had been able to get her to eat anything so far.

But Kevin's out stretched hands wasn't rejected like ours.  She took a bite, so tiny you'd miss it if you blinked.  Kevin's lips moved, whispering something but I couldn't hear it.  He touched her forehead with his index finger, massaging it, then he stroke her cheek until she started purring, eyes closed in blissful contentment.

I had forgotten the page I was on, the boys upstairs apparently had just won another victory against the battle drones spat out by the game software.  They cheered, made more stumps until the house creaked, just a little.

But I almost couldn't hear it watching the silent exchange between Kevin and the Bunny.  She struggled onto her feet, reaching into his hands, surprising him with a quick lick, and a few nudges.  But most importantly for me, she ate everything he offered up, even the bits she had taken from us just to spit out earlier.

The cheers suddenly ended, as footsteps grew closer and louder.  The boys are coming down. Albert, Kevin's big brother, who taunted him daily about his height, his baby cheeks, and his annoying personality, was in for a surprise.

A life saving surprise that is.

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