Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"...gone to flinders."

A flotilla of pelicans had settled on the shallows above the coral.  Where the coral gives way to a seabed of sand is where I settled in.  With my boogie as an armrest, and the ocean up to my armpits, I was there to simply be nearby, to watch.

I've been a watcher all my life, but am re-inspired by Craig Childs.  Read anything he's written, and listen to him on NPR.

Closer to shore was a small army of barechested nationals, splashing about, so I was hardly deep in the wilds.  Worse, one young man took an interest in me and crept ever closer, staring....  From the look on his face, he seemed slightly retarded if not outright demented.  Just then, I sensed, and then saw, another guy creeping up on the other side of me, looking equally demented.

"What are you guys up to?" I cleverly blurted out in English.  They both turned away, back to their own kind.  I looked around for a sane-looking man who would be their counselor.  There was none.  All of them must simply be drunk on a Sunday afternoon.  Shortly after, the lads all launched into a hearty game of keep-away, or aerial soccer, in the water, and my pelicans drifted farther away over the coral.  Rats.

Then.... a wave!  A rogue, ridable boogie'wave.  I went for it, sporting my own demented look... because this wave would take me right through the middle of this cacophany of young men.  No matter that I missed the wave.  The following series of breakers cleared the lads out.  

I was now alone with the pelicans, as well as the hovering cloud of small local seagulls.  With no one but me in the water nearby, the flotilla drifted closer, and I remained quiet, observing.  I liked how one pelican -- instead of holding his long neck vertically with his long beak parallel and pointing down to the sea -- how this one pelican lay his long neck down along his back, with his beak resting atop that long neck.   Ahhhhh.

Then came the black underwater cloud advancing rapidly towards me in the deep green sea. Ever closer, the water transformed into a roiling leaping frenzy of tiny silver fish.

I was surrounded.

I was at Ground Zero.

I was at the apex of my goal.

The white cloud of small gulls was suddenly directly overhead, swooping and scooping up the fish all around me.  I was in the eye of a hurricane -- green, black, silver, white, blue -- all in swirling motion, water and sunshine all mixed together.

And, but one breath later, came the pelicans from above.  One after another, they plunged headlong from some calculated height, into the sea all around me.  They dove in "with all the grace of an orange crate gone to flinders."   Source:  Robert Dana, in his poem, "Fog."  Here is the stanza from which I quote:
…the gliding pelicans with their great 
beaks and bags, and the broad cape
of their wings, and that incredible collapse
into the sea, a dive with all the grace
of an orange crate gone to flinders…

1 comment:

Sara Ransom said...

I doubt anyone will find this, I'm posting it so long afterwards. It's me, Sara, adding that hey, the pelicans dive is ACTUALLY quite graceful and precise if you watch closely. Their wings are spread until just before water contact, then they fold them with a twist, and enter the water long beak first, like a bullet. The twist is what makes it so beautiful.