Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sea Massage

She massages the sea - the sea massages me - as she flattens the ripples and sends them away - back to the ocean of mealy shells - of plastic bobbing along waves of want - of white horses breaking over brows of boats - out fishing for their last supper.

She massages the ripples - she sends them out - to slither down backs of dolphins - backs of whales, sea riding turtles - who twist their noses in the direction of the east, the west, the north, the south, for they have forgotten which beach to beach themselves on, which sand to arrive at, which rock to slitter off.  They are befuddled, befrocked, bemoaned, becursed by the abundance of receptacles in their way, in their wake, on their watch - they slip and slide around, dive under, leap over, dodge and dribble, drunk and disorderly - they zigzag and slope - they career and caroon, crack and calumpf their way across a clear concrete wall, a plastic fantastic, a so-convenient, so expedient, so indispensable, so indisposable bottle top barrier, of see-through shapes, of bottleneck beggars, of bastardly breathers, of blowhole stoppers, of dastardly dealers, of sealers of old, harpooners of late (you don’t have to go to sea young man to know your fate), of crazy jelly fishers that drift and doze, like a land mine, a snare trap, a dart bomb, a nonkrong, a rift in the market, a raif rocket, a reeling back of old fishing spots.

She massages the sea, the sea massages her, for she cannot go far from the shores of her dreams, from her leaps of faith, from the lawn of her doorstep the sea dares to take - her children, her clients, her husband, her wok, her pot plants, her broom, her old cooking pot, her bedspread, her bed, her old 60’s clock, her cobwebs on walls that before ceilings stop, her bricks, her bed, her wardrobe, her laughter, her kebaya, sarong, her night table, her thongs, her bule, her one lipstick she traded like gold, her last piece of dignity wrapped in a shawl, her worries of things past, of things yet to come, of ‘when will they find me and bring me undone’. She massages the sea.

By day she picks up small shells, pushes them out like tiny boats to sail, to sit, to bob, to send a message in a bottle, send a letter, send a slogan, send a something, to ask the sea not to come into her house any more, not to sweep in her front door, not to do the spring clean, not to scrub the floors, not to take away the cobwebs or fill her cushions with sand.

She massages the sea while she implores - don’t take my cooking pots again, they are not so old, don’t take my children this time, please let them grow, don’t take my chickens, their eggs are all we have now, with red rice we pick from beside the road. Don’t take my bule, the ones I massage each day on the bed of our dreams, who come back every year with small gifts in their hands. Don’t take my bule, don’t take my bule.

She massages the sea, the sea massages her, every night salt sea foam laps at her door, her door is closed shut but still it gets in and creeps its coldness into her skin, under the sheet white night of her worry, she lies listening to the gruelling fierce squawl, the nasty smash, the heel cat hilt, the frowsy spot, the singular snag, the deafening raft, the cheating chignon, the curmugeoning near miss, the gorged carburettor, the opaque growl, the leery crunch, the charred rain howl, the frogulous hold of the worry 
the worry 
the worry.

She cannot escape it, she cannot subdue it, it rises in her like gas searching for gaps, for crevices, for fault lines of sagging, for cellular mischief, ye olde self slagging - it likes to come dancing and prancing and glancing off walls and nucleus warm and bouncing all over, creating a havoc of worry about something, about nothing, about anything, that if you go searching for doesn’t exist, that if you go looking for it’s not there, and you find only the stressing, the straining, the gassing, the graining, the slaying of good, the beating of happy, the defeat of possible, the replacing with something that’s gone to the dogs, the pitting of stomach, the holding of breath, you dare not, you will not, breath just in case, the shortening, the stumping, the lump in the throat, in the gullet, in airways, the pressing, the weighting on your tiny chest like a truckload of wet slab poured into your vest, the tightness, the steel band, the squeeze, the knife blade, the jabbing, the poking, the ribcage choking, the vice grip, the rack of your spate, the lumpy, the grumpy, the figuring of fate, the tricking, the trumping, the midnight gazumping
the crashing
the crushing
the crushing.

She lies on her rack in the grip of it all, relax take a pill, tip it out on the floor, roll over, lay it down, lick it for good, flatten it, pummel it into the ground, choke it, starve it, carve up all its bouncing cells, what’s the use of it, tell it once and for all - there’s no use, no use in fear - there’s no pay off, only slay off whenever it’s near, for fear of the future has only one need, fear of the now, the next moment, the one after, waiting to attack, bring the bad news, bring it on, rappa tap tap tap, come knocking, come ringing, come announcing its views, come happening, come landing, crashing into your day, so when it does, only then, at last you can say: I knew it, I knew it would happen this way.

She massages the sea in the dreams of her night, she feels its foam edging her outline tight as it slips under the door, along the sand floor, around the bed, into the cracks of the throw over sheet, following the thread of the old ikat that covers her bones, while husband drifts in the land of his moans, she feels bubbles creeping under her skin, she calls out to her bule to no avail, her bule is gone, already set sail to the land of the plenty, where kind gentle women sleep all alone and cry out in the night just like her, for someone, something, some god, some human, some creature, some spirit, some force, some light, some cloud, some rain, some mist, some flower, some brightness
some hope
some help
some hope.

She massages the sea the sea massages her, it massages her worries onto the floor, under the door into the night, across the cold sand, to arrive on a beach, on a wave of froth, to land like a whale in someone else’s bath.
Take them, she murmurs, take them all, into the squalling night of the thrall.Take them, she mutters, take them from me, send all my worries out to sea; the school shoes, the school fees, the bus fare, the offerings, the banjar, the doc, my mother’s broken arm, my father’s chronic cough
the hutang
the hutang
the hutang.

She massages the sea, the sea massages her, how good to feel fingers of sea on her skin, touch her breast, her stomach, her legs feel no pain, as sea pummels and kneads and gently strokes with feather like firmness where it’s needed most.

Sea doesn’t hold back sea doesn’t restrain and enters her tender again and again, for salt loves to gather wherever it can, in secret pockets of damp where later sun makes it gleam white and sparkle, and a creature will thirst with its rough tongue, and digging and mining and licking salt grease on his lips, will know that at last by a god he’s been kissed.

I’m ready,  she calls and sea does respond, by lifting her gently and rocking her lightly and picking her up and placing her down and smoothing out the skin of her frown, light as foam, free as bubbles,  lifts her from her bed, and out past her kitchen, through her front door, like a bridegroom in reverse, floats her gently, across her front porch, eddies her slowly, lingers a while, in the shallows, her favourite spot, then in one giant sweep, white water high, carries her out to the back and beyond, where veined valleys of sea break, lift and drop, as salt fills her pores, eyes, mouth, her nose drinking in brine, and fishes come nibbling
ten at a time.

Worry can’t nibble, can’t come any more, for waves have taken over the worrying floor and she knows to arrive on the other shore, she must let go, let go of it all, let sea massage away her tight knots, her pain spots, her crick and her creak, her sad and her happy, her difficult feet, her strains and her stress, her muscular limp, all sink to the bottom
all sink

Morning comes rippling, comes stippling along, no more squalling, no more brawling all flat and abate. Sea calm, pastels lapping, peace pink on soft grey, sun piercing the surface with its first rays, tiny ripples come stippling and expand all around, touched with gold, tinged with flame, ripples spread all the way, dissolving into the lap of the bay. 
She massages the sea
sea massages

(c) Jan Cornall 2013

Sea Massage - glossary of terms
nongkrong - hanging out , doing nothing.
kebaya - traditional blouse.
bule - foriegner, tourist.
banjar - organisation that governs the village community.
hutang - debt.

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