Essay No. 3
“this clouding, unclouding sickle moon,
whitening this beach again like a blank page”
- Derek Walcott
I remember two years after my first daughter, Alessandra, was born, lying in bed, taking advantage of resting, while she was napping. Sick and exhausted, I was pregnant with my second daughter. Alessandra’s nursery was just across the hall from my bedroom, allowing me to see into her room from my bed. Though it was mid afternoon, her room was made completely dark by blackout curtains. Having my girls in the absence of my mother, who died on the Fourth of July in 1999…happy birthday, independence…was profoundly difficult, and on this particular day, I was overwhelmed with that reality. Beside Alessandra’s crib, and the rocking chair in which I nursed her, was a small tea table with a framed photo of my mother. I could see it from where I was lying, when a streak of light miraculously made its way through those impenetrable curtains, for a few minutes illuminating her photo…
Light bathes us the same way water does. The barrier islands play host to so many unfoldings, and mirrorings, that their light chemistry could never really be understood. A second sun lives in the water.
In summertime, afternoon thunderstorms roll off the Gulf to collide head-on with the setting sun. They rose visibly all morning, the truest white you have ever seen, piling heavenward in gorgeous crenellation. Their sky lines grid the blue, as far as you can see, askew to the land, yet regularizing the ether up there. And, by afternoon they’re drawn to the heat-staggered islands, whose very air trembles with a tension of wind, light, movement, and color. Their undersides turn lime green when light bounces up off the water, like the sea grapes leaves blowing back and forth in the dunes.
I held a pen shell up to light one day. I love the double reflection-lines on the water, on the tidal pool and the Gulf itself, how the tree forms and distant cloud line echo one another, the striations of the near-clouds and the shell, the family of moons refracting on the lens in various states of eclipse, and the figures right on the exact edge of the light.