"Upon The Sanguine Shores" By Jeffrey Smith
© JEFFREY SMITH
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“The Sea Wolf”
It was amazing how far I had traversed the shore that night. In complete blackness, with only the sound of the waves. They rolled astonishingly gentle along that stretch. It was as if the waves whispered to me the tender secrets of the ocean, things that I never have and never will know, but they hinted to me. I feel they hinted that there is beauty in the ocean that rivals the splendor I see in my own world. Something equivalent to the wafting of wildflowers, the buzzing of dragonflies, or the scents carried on the winds that roll down from the mountains. Birth. I figure that too happens in the oceans.
Where I was born, the waves crashed with vehemence. My seven siblings and I were frightened of it in the early months before we left the hole. We imagined it was a great and terrible beast that waited for us to emerge, and once we did we would be eaten within moments. I had not the ability to even engender an image in my mind of what this beast might materialize as. I only felt it in my chest. The agony of fear. We all felt this despite the soft chiding of our mother, who insisted it were only “water”. What ever that may have been. To us then, that meant nothing.
When we first emerged, I remember I was the only one of us whose fear was completely shattered by unparalleled awe. We all stepped charily out and peered over the crest of the rocks, with the morning sun casting everything in what I now know to be early sunlight, and the first of the waves that crashed sent them yipping back to the hole with even more terror than before. Not I. I flinched, yes. I flattened my ears to my head and crouched until my belly brushed the rocks, but I was not afraid. I remained still for a few more crashes, but before long I was standing again, inching closer until I actually felt the spray. I believe I felt then what it meant to be a living thing.
Every day since, I have walked abreast with the ocean. Often with the waves more violent than that, sometimes less. I recall and relay this moment of hearing a gentle ocean for the first time as being my very first feeling of real peace. I realize that may sound odd or even overly dramatic considering the peaceful things I have seen on land, but the ocean to me is a symbol of my birth, of my upbringing, and my survival. I rely on it and live by it and know it as well as you can from the shore. I have heard only anger or sadness in it for all my life, and to me that created a dismal notion that this on which I rely is something possessing a great deal of ill intent. That changed though that night I walked and heard it actually speak softly to me. As if it finally knew me rather than I only knowing it.
I had emerged from the wood at dusk, walking a straight shot East, as I have been doing now for the past five years, and the sun had already gone down. As is my norm, I walked down to the water to wet my feet, as I am fond of feeling wet when the weather permits. The quiet penetrated me then but I did not yet give it thought, I thought only of the moments prior to exiting the wood. I mulled the moments over so intensely that the sinew in my frame felt tight. I was tired. Agitated. Pained and hungry.
Once my feet were wet I trotted along the water, just past the licking of the waves, at a steady, even pace. I held my nose to the air and remained oblivious to how gently I was received, but as the tension in me finally began to dissipate I was conscious of how calm the evening was. This was when I felt it so truly that the ocean were being kind to me. As I felt it more intensely I did not do what one would expect. I did not stop, I trotted quicker. Faster and faster until I felt youth in me again. A carelessness springing from happiness rather than an absence of mind. The waves whispered and sang to me until I felt joyous enough to run at times. I felt freedom in my tired heart that allowed me to sprint when there was no need to at all. I think I may have even howled once.
Morning though… morning was when I felt in me a sense of joviality unrivaled. I was of course exhausted, and sat back from the waves. If they can be called as such. They rolled too small almost to be waves. Too kindly. I continued to watch them as I sat upon a boulder, whose surface was smooth enough so as to not trouble me, and so the sun rose.
At first it was fairly unremarkable, as the horizon simply turned a different shade of gray, but it unfolded rather quickly as something crafted by an otherworldly force, knocking thought and words clear out of me as if I had been told to keep quiet by Mother Nature herself. The clouds seemed to explode and the sun crept up, turning everything into a rusty red that reminded me deeply of my mother‘s coat as I remembered it. They billowed and formed in large arcs as the sanguine of the sky was mirrored over the water, and a window formed to show the first blues of the day. The clouds actually seemed to form a golden pathway into the sky, and for a moment I felt I was witnessing the unfolding of a miracle. Fear may have taken me then had I not been so overcome with joy and longing, for I desperately wanted to follow this path before me. Though my reason firmly held me, and still I sat.
I sat more still then than I ever had in all my life. So still that the seagulls ceased to see me. So still that I felt my heart beating. So immeasurably still and silent was I that I felt nothing existed in the world but this scene, this area, this indentation in the world that only I had seen. Nothing else mattered then. My sigh was as deep as the ocean itself, seeming to come straight from the depths of my soul, for I was truly content.