Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Authenticity of Bones and Waves

I haven't written here since 2017. I find this a bit staggering to say the least. (I write constantly, just haven't posted here, mind you) Disquieting how the days become weeks and then months and suddenly you have young men rather than boys and there is this mesh of delicate lines woven into the skin on the back of your hands that implies a fragility I don't yet feel.

I've recently returned from visiting my husband who is finishing a project on Nantucket. I went for a time last autumn and came home with pounds of shells collected from still-warm sand, whole and smooth like pregnant eggs spilled from the sea. This time winter hung low, close to the ground; a presence that changed the colors of the sky and the smell of the mist when the sun had fled the day. The sand was cold and the wind had teeth.

The shells I found now were nothing like the fruit of late October. The beach is littered with just shards of shells, fragments of a whole worn like seaglass into such beauty it took my breath away. I collected piles of them, washed and scraped and then laid them out to dry on the kitchen counter, an ocean boneyard. I marveled. I dreamt of them, drifting lazily beneath the surface of the water as the waves crashed overhead and the skeletal shells danced like drunken moths.

They're my favorites now, these calcified remnants; having tumbled through the storms and worn away the surface to reveal the swirl and sweep of the loveliness inside. I find this a disconcerting parallel - how we spend so much energy preening and polishing our exterior only to have the hurricanes of time and the sands of age wear off the brittle edges, peel back the flesh, and expose the majesty that is the unadorned soul. Beauty has become a misled quest for a particular color of paint, when what is truly of value lies there, inside the tendons and cartilage, the marrow of us.

I've now begun dreaming of the sea almost daily. I'm sketching and thinking of creating a small group of paintings inspired by these shells. I think I will call it The Bones of the Sea.