Face lifted into gathering wind, she closes her eyes. Here she stands. Bystanders and beach walkers would classify the scene as idyllic. Serene. Yet, with sand all around, fading warmth giving way to nightfall’s chill, seagulls offering their voice of beckoning tranquility, her heart beats relentlessly. Her over-sized, faded denim shirt snaps like an oddly-shaped flag in the gathering storm. Deep furrows carved into her porcelain forehead, hair disheveled in salty breeze and invisible weights drawing her shoulders forward, she is momentarily quiet. At least outwardly.
Her mind is not at peace. Questions, uncertainty, fear, pain and loss fight for internal space – for the right to be heard. Felt. Acknowledged. Processed. These invisible warriors’ battle is impeded by the thick, impenetrable fog that seeps in from between floorboards, swirls out of electrical outlets, descends from ceilings already low and ominous. The room of her mind reels and rocks – like a vessel on open, moonless sea.
She recoils at her compromised mental condition. Far from shore, currents and torrents turbulent and wild, panic now engulfs her. How had she come to this place? Where is the end to convulsing and contorting – to the strangling images of subsistence, submersion, suffocation? She hears faint laughter – mocking, merciless. Even her own mind betrays her.
Her body trembles, she shakes her shoulders as if to cast aside an unnecessary garment. The sensation of sand between her toes magnetically draws her down to rest in its endless embrace, each grain a soothing invitation to stillness. Her eyes do not open as she resigns to quieting respite. Here, one with endless ocean sand, she finds shelter from furious wind, taunting turmoil, gloating grave. In silence – in time – constriction releases its grip, grudgingly handing the baton off to composure; contradiction to confirmation; commotion to calm.
She lies, crumpled, convoluted. Time ushers each ranting mental player to the sidelines, allowing tenderness and compassion to settle. She stretches. The gentle warmth of sand beneath, solitude surrounding and grace within caresses a scorched soul. Hope flows through inner desert regions, offering a benediction – raising its arms to lift her to possibility. Newness. Life.
Her eyes open to the faint shimmer of a new day. No longer does wind rage or sky threaten. Her breath comes in life-giving waves; her heart is stilled. This is not the end. Nor is it the beginning. It is a simple segment in the passage of time.
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2016
photo credit: JPZ – personal photo library