The Long and Gliding Road

The road most taken in my photographic ouvre is more of a zig-zag over land and sand towards water.

I sink in soggy soil and crunch through panes of glassy frozen water. I watch plovers pause for sunrise and Kingfishers surveying sunset. Gulls gather for the sun’s debut before skimming atop rolling saltwater as they ascend to glide above the retreating waves.

I look up and down by degrees. I rotate, snapping photos in a panoramic arch. I ignore a riot of color on the horizon when I am smitten by an unusual rock or glistening algae underfoot.

I shoot into blinding sunlight and muted mammatus skies. I collect green and every other color. New England snow and molten dunes. Working lobster boats surrounded by vacuum-sealed pleasure craft hoisted from harbors and set aside for the season.

But the subject is always the same: my absent better half.

The departed, poet Robinson Jeffers wrote in “Inscription for a Gravestone,” “have a hand in the sunrises/ And the glow of this grass.

My lenses and I always chase signs of you, imprinted on both what I and others can see and what only I can see, as you “wander in the air. . . and flow in the ocean” that touches shores I have walked to from home and far more distant places. Where  green is ringed round by green. The Dublin beach from which a seashell of your ashes swirled into surf and feathered gray became liquid blue. 

Sometimes, instead of receiving and recording visible or audible signs from denizens of worlds we–technically–do not share, metaphorical flight proceeds in the other direction. Pablo Neruda both received and dispatched messages over the exceedingly thin space between here and not-here. Alive and alone on shore, in his poem, “If You Forget Me” :

everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

“Alive, Alive, Oh”

Ireland 1673
Downtown Dublin (c) SMG 2013

Unlike the cockles and mussels she peddles–alive, freshly-plucked from a salty stew of sand and sea–Dublin’s sweet Molly Malone becomes a ghost by the end of her song.

“She died of a fever,
And no-one could save her,
Just like her mother and father before.
Now her ghost wheels the barrow,
Through streets broad and narrow,
Crying “Cockles And Mussels, Alive alive Oh!”

Molly’s refrain also made an appearance in Carol Ann Duffy’s “Midsummer Night“:

“Not there when a strange bird sang on a branch
over our heads, you
and me, or there when a starlit fruit ripened
itself on a tree.
Not there to lie on the grass of our graves, both,
alive alive oh. . . .”

Ireland 1274
Dublin Cygnets

Not long ago I had another one of those days .  On my way back from work, as I traveled the congested highways which used to take me to a different house filled to the brim with family–a husband who had been with me since I was a teenager and our four children–I asked the empty passenger seat for a hint of an answer to my question: What do you want me to do now? Continue reading ““Alive, Alive, Oh””

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