Helena and the Sea

Helena stood on the open balcony of the highest tower of the house.  Far below, on the other side of the clear barrier, the sea glimmered like an emerald in the rocky setting of the bay.  Her hands shaded her eyes.  Ferdinand came up beside her.  He leaned on the rail and gazed out toward the water.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” he asked.

“What is it?” Helena wondered aloud.  “It seems large for a lake.”

Ferdinand was astonished, but remained kind.  “The sea,” he informed her.

“It’s not how I’d imagined it,” she declared.  Suddenly, she turned away, realizing that perhaps she should have been embarrassed by her naiveté.  After composing herself, she looked back at her husband.

The Vice Chairman was interested.  “Well, go on,” he insisted.

“Didn’t men go mad with love for the sea?”

“You don’t believe it?” he challenged.

Helena looked back at the glistening water.  “It’s nothing but a looking glass!” she exclaimed.

“What were you expecting?” Ferdinand asked light-heartedly.

“I thought,” Helena began, then paused, collecting her disorganized impression, “It would be crueler.  Less forgiving.”

“Is that what love is?” Ferdinand wondered, bringing his hand to his eyes, squinting at his wife through the broken canvas of daylight.

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
Is a strong brown god—sullen, untamed and intractable,
Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
By the dwellers in cities—ever, however, implacable,
Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and
His rhythm was present in the nursery bedroom,
In the rank ailanthus of the April dooryard,
In the smell of grapes on the autumn table,
And the evening circle in the winter gaslight.

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,
Many gods and many voices.
The salt is on the briar rose,
The fog is in the fir trees.
The sea howl
And the sea yelp, are different voices
Often together heard: the whine in the rigging,
The menace and caress of wave that breaks on water,
The distant rote in the granite teeth,
And the wailing warning from the approaching headland
Are all sea voices, and heaving groaner
Rounded homewards, and the seagull:
And under the oppression of the silent fog
The tolling bell
Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried
Ground swell, a time
Older than the time of chronometers, older
Than time counted by anxious worried women
Lying awake, calculating the future,
Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when the past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending;
And the ground swell, that is and was from the beginning.
The bell.



Knock - Everybody’s Love to Ann

Music and Lyrics by Amelie Andrezel

We cut our hands on each other’s clothes

Where it stops, nobody knows

Ah-ah.  Ah-ah.

Your grandfather born in a seaside town.

The matches you light when nobody’s around.

And the lover in your bed

And the rubies in her hair

And the voice inside your head that screams:

“Nobody’s there.”

The sea swept in and it sunk our hopes

I hear there’s sun somewhere down the coast.

Ah-ah.  Ah-ah.

I’ll rent a room on a cool north face.

Let California heal the wounds that time can’t erase

But I’m walking on my knees

With the desert sailing by

Out my window as the bright sand waves

Good bye, good bye.

Some blows sting where they do not land

Some hurts echo like a concert grand

Racing down the hall

Rattling your locks

But all I really want to do is knock—

Turn back the clock.

The sea swept in and it sunk our hopes.

I hear there’s sun somewhere down the coast.

Here was the sea and there was the sky.  They got on coldly together.

The sky was above and the sea was below and between was a damp that came in on the mist.  Perhaps the other way around.  The mist was like slate on top of the green, a slick kind of green that crept and curled and slithered across your bones.

The green things of the world were the things that crawled across the surface.  They clung in a film to the still, grey bones of the land, asleep with the winter.  The sky was grey and the foam was green, whipping to a froth on the dull, deep waves.

Slate above and slate below, and in the morning a damp that comes in on the mist. 

-Amelie Andrezel

Waves coming in on the east coast of Scotland.

Waves coming in on the east coast of Scotland.