Conversation at land’s edge.
After we dream, we will meet by the shore.
Sister, do you see me? Let us be counted among the living.
Then we will dive.
When they come to eat our images, they will repeat the old power play. They’ll try again, to douse our bodies in shame.
Hah! As if to punish us with a bucket of cold water! We’ll wave and smile, go back down.
But sure, we can read the signs. It won’t be long before they make their vengeance into law. It is decreed, they will say, as prelude. Then comes the next mandate about official attire.
An old story. I bet these petty tyrants could use a good dive. But they are too afraid, so they clutch their precious trinkets to their chest and pretend to avert their eyes. It matters very much to them, what we wear or do not wear.
So complete is their exile from any land, they relinquish their only birthright: the primordial cave of their mother’s body, the original canal of first passage, the ripe breasts from which they first tasted their own lives, where the membrane between worlds remained transparent, and the mountain of her form was the first ascent to some wider vista onto what might be, an impulse now degraded into mere collection of images to be held in place of first sight.
How are your eyes today, sister? Good, and look! Your skin has healed!
It is clear today, let’s get the boats, go back to that spot, remember? There was more than we could carry in our nets!
I will get the others. We will take the boat. When you see it is good, we’ll go back down.
I see you, woman.
It is good to be seen.
Let’s get the others.
Inspired by the Japanese ama, as photographed by Iwase Yoshiyuki and described (with stunning images) in this article. Many of the ama lived in communities with other women, supporting themselves and their families comfortably by diving for abalone, sea urchin, and seaweeds. Many women dove well into their nineties. The business was lucrative through the 1960s, after which it suffered the effects of climate change and overfishing. Chris Lee describes some of these issues in this Zenbird article.