Friday, April 02, 2004

I have a little tradition: I like to go to the beach on my Birthday in January. On calm days, with just the cold light, the cutting breeze and me, it's a good place to organize my thoughts. On wilder ones, the crashing waves, the wind, the steel gray sky seem to be great agents of cleansing my mind for the upcoming year.

For so many years, I lived in landlocked country near two great lakes. Here, I get the Atlantic. Though I love the former place, I don't know if it could ever measure up the coast and the Ocean - immeasurably huge, horrifying in its destructiveness but comforting in its indifference to me. Swimming isn't a possibility for me, not now, not yet. I'm too frightened. I will, however, dip my toes in or take a taste. That all seems safe enough.

Then there's that smell. I long for that cool, watery, salty smell that comes on the breezes even as far inland as across town. It's gotten into my blood, I'm afraid. It's now a craving, a physical need.

El Mar

Un solo ser, pero no hay sangre.
Una sola caricia, muerte o rosa.
Viene el mar y reune nuestras vidas
y solo ataca y se reparte y canta
en noche y dia y hombre y criatura.
La esencia: fuego y frio: movimiento.

-Pablo Neruda

The Sea

A single entity, but no blood.
A single caress, death or a rose.
The sea comes in a nd puts our lives together
and attacks alone and spreads itself and sings
in nights and days and men and living creatures.
Its essence - fire and cold; movement, movement.

-translation by Alastair Reid

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