I feel like this one requires some explanation. It’s an idea I’ve been thinking about for as long as I can remember, influenced by my recent reading of Rachel Carson, and composed at 3:30 in the morning. I’ve noticed before that late at night my writing changes, this is probably the best example of that phenomenon; I don’t know where it came from, I don’t know where it’s going, It’s just an image - don’t read into it.
The Cavern of the Ocean Tree
He looked out over the blue black flickering sea.
The grey roof above it. The rolling sand. The heartbeat of the waves.
Knelt and unlaced his shoes, placed them on a drift-log.
His socks. His shirt.
The sand was cool. Fine. Dry.
He walked toward the surf, the beach grew firm, ridged.
Moisture pressed out from around his feet.
The foam on his ankles. The eel grass strands pulled along, unwinding.
He submersed and swam. The water cold in its deeps, thickening under the pressure of its vast weight.
And swam. Beyond cresting waves and the reaching headland.
Dove and surfaced.
Dove and did not rise, rip tide drawing him under, far down into the cold.
He reached out, flailing, gripped some tuberous passing mass and was jerked below the current.
Floating before the ancient lord of the ocean.
Tentacles splayed, great body still, eyes meeting his in inhuman focus.
Otherness and strength, beast unmet. Awareness like none else in that place.
Ropey limbs en-twisting him, the behemoth dived.
He did not fight the powerful drag down, his mind numbed by depth and cold and water.
Salt burned his eyes. The mirrored undersurface dim. He could not close them for the gazing. Above him, silhouetted, in the currents and undercurrents, schools of fish racing along invisible pathways to all corners of the ocean.
Dived and turned, arc into a rocky shelf. Last light disappeared.
Then air and dripping and thrashing and the ocean’s blood pressed from him to flow down the stone. Released and collapsed.
Light. Glowing rind of life, blue and white. Flowering polyps and skittering shelled things.
Mussels, shining in the phosphoresce their curious mirrored being, hanging from the notched stone above him as he stood.
Stepped with care, cave floor grooved but slick. Waters filled with some lit creature flowing from within.
Chamber narrowed, shortened.
He crouched and slid, facing the myriad fauna of the vault wall.
Walls opened and dropped away, he tumbled and slid.
A basin pulsing with the same light, shallow and wide.
At the center rising a low isle, on it an arbor of the sea.
Kelp rooted to the stone, reaching up, fronds held aloft, barnacles, sea moss, driftwood and starfish, green mottled crabs.
A hundred denizens of the tide.
All alit. All dripping from some crevice far above. All growing, wild with life.
Across the pool a dwelling in the cavern wall.
A being. Calm, pale as the moon. Young as he and small, standing lightly beneath the luminescent branching leaves of the ocean tree.
Her hair dark, long and haggard, cut against dull stone and washed in diatomaceous water. Gown worn, once white.
He waded into the pool, immersed to his knees, stepped on to the isle. She before him in radiance.
Her eyes afire with the violet crystalline fractaling of the eternal sky.