Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Sunday, July 13, 2003  

Walking along the beach this morning, mid-morning, the sun above contending with the greyish wool of the clouds, threatening rain, the sun at times peering through, at times not; the clouds from time to time letting down a some of their precious cargo, their only offering, their own selves, drops quickly losing themselves in the fine, fawn-coloured sand. Looking out over the bodies bobbing in the undulant sea, a fine sprinkling of diamonds across its rippling, breaking surface; looking out and beyond, I watched the pelicans: those audacious creatures, wings like blades, clean and precise in their motions; heads still, focused, the spears of their beaks - the lower beak joining and becoming one with that famed pouch - at the ready for the task at hand. They wheel lazily overhead, the birds, waiting, watching... Then at the moment determined most propitious, wings fold, head goes down, body dips, drops, a blurry brown bullet plunging through air; then the splash, followed by a ruffling of wings, the bird now at rest upon the water; and if the strike a successful one, the head titled back as the catch slides down the gullet.

And so I watched, and as I did, a memory arose, of a time not long past, but so much distance filling the period between then, and now. A memory of a night, and a look, a smile, and a request: Tell me something. Anything. Speak. And I spoke, my voice low in the quiet still dark. I spoke of the pelicans. Of how they hunt their prey, diving at great speeds into the water, the force injuring their eyes, slowly, and over the years, the damage increasing until the birds go blind. Blinded, they cannot hunt anymore. Unable to hunt, they starve, and die. This is the fate of the pelican. And the words dispersed into the ether, and the night entombed again, sweet and safe, for a time.

And of fates I contemplate again, as I watch the pelicans here and now; and of other, later words spoken, final words that did not know then what they were, or even why, of what they would lead to, of all that has happened since: recriminations, reconciliations, again more words, words, words.

But now I turn from the ocean, and the pelicans, moving away from the shifting shore and head to firmer ground. And I see a face, familiar, indelible, yet it is as if for the first time. This time no words are spoken, or are necessary; no questions asked, no answers demanded. Simply a look, and an understanding. I gather my things. The morning is over and finally it is time for me to go.

posted by Jonathan | 11:55 PM 0 comments


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