Shorelines

What may loom, unweaving.

We wanted a story its magic in the key of longing notes we arced like stones from cliffs where we stood the key was carrying the eyes to where the magic was not. Years on a planet would spin us, looking for more of them to name. Here is one, an ordinary song, here is how you survive until the moment when you say back to us here is home and it cuts to remember between places so far full of dead heroes whose spirits won’t quit. We waited, unweaving the ritual to save ourselves. For tomorrow against this siege, and dawn keeps coming so soon.

Spider Dreams

And the rest of us, watching.

The jumping spiders are dreaming. You can tell because the babies have translucent skin. Watch the eyes behind it, back and forth. Notice the twitching legs.

What are they doing? One of us asks. The theory is that they are trying to make sense. Whatever they dream about, it may help them jump better when they wake. It may help with direction, takeoffs, landings. Which, we have to admit, is more than any of us can say about our spider dreams.

The birds are doing it, too, another observes. Watch the feathers, how they twitch on drooping heads. The sleeping cephalopods turn wild colors, sending signals with urgency.

What we are wondering seems uncouth to ask. But chances are that there is one in any given assembly who is relatively immune to propriety, so we wait for the silence to break.

Do you think they see us? Says the one, When they . . .?

No answer is forthcoming. In the next hush, we notice that it isn’t clear which answer we want.  In the long quiet that follows, we sleep.

***

Inspired by Carolyn Wilke’s recent Knowable article on emerging research into the REM sleep patterns of various creatures.

Note

At a cliff.

Say it’s a last day. Say the seagull knows. Say this is the explanation for that seeming pointed look where it stops just now on this eye-level post. There are these urgent clouds at the horizon, the edge of a tongue frayed toward song. Bodies inflected against the tide. To be washed, a quiet instrument waiting. If our dead watch, let someone play me now. That I may praise it, too.

Storm Surge

And a turning point.

In the waiting room, I wanted

to say–––something, because

such places, with their anxious hum

always seem to want relief. From

the pretense of containment,

or into song. But when it was time

I left and the hot wind hit

my eyes which slid across

folded falcon wings as if

to learn how my own hands

clutching plastic bags

might know that poise.

A nest nearby, its swallow

gone, a lilting plainsong

behind me. I turned, eyes

wide, to trace the mouth

of the storm’s long suggestion

in the ears as though to 

blow me empty. Howl,

I wanted then, as now, to 

share some sighting 

with another face.

One Hope

For what may shine.

That you may one day know a lens not terror, a posture not crouched, sounds neither siren nor drone, and weathers unrhymed with death count. Food to offer, not to reap, and time as a ladle to be passed to the tune of Here, take it. Take what you need. Did you get enough? when no host will rest until everyone is so full that they lose the count, numbers blurring back into beginning, and no one thinks to save the light for when it leaves us.

Feather Star

And other ancient mysteries.

Just the other day, we were discussing how it might be a good idea for us to pay close attention to the most enduring species, given our current trajectory. And then you showed up, looking like an underwater plant. Spineless, with branching appendages, radial arms, each like a feather. Where did you keep your fists, and how did you get this far without the opposable thumbs we so prized? What about your capacity for reason? Did you even have reasons? Name one, we challenged, but you were silent.

What you did was something else, and we couldn’t look away. You went on and on, catching what drifted before you. What you lost––namely, arms––you regrew. There is something here, we think. About the way you present as a walking plant, hiding in plain sight. We were trying to name it when you moved away. We were surprised by your speed. We wondered about your purpose but had to surface for air. 

Then we went inland and sat by the banks of a river, the site of another flood. Being creatures prone to contemplation, we often sat at the edges of water bodies, looking for some way to understand the movement between life and loss. When the waters receded, we would see the crowns of drowned monuments, and these would knock against ancestral bones. And we would think of things to notice. Like how the river must know every stone it touches, and these. They went on, knocking, and we left.

***

Inspired by feather stars.