It threatened for months. It teased, for so long on the verge of breaking. Dams creaked and waves roared. Weirs broke and waterfalls increased. Signs, so many signs, that a catastrophe was close at hand. But I denied it, willing to see only what pleased me. Selective blindness made me insensitive to evidence. Until it finally came.
The violence of the shock left me dumbstruck and incapable of thinking. I couldn’t even remember my name. It flushed the thoughts off my mind. It submerged my sight and I couldn’t see. The surge of feelings invaded my heart. It hurt and I couldn’t speak.
I tried to swim through the flood. I tried to keep my head above the water. I wanted to breathe, and break free. I wanted to rest. I needed to think. But the waves, ever so violent, ever so painful, ever so massive, wouldn’t stop rising on me. I swam for ages without reaching ground. Ground was gone, earth was gone, drowned under the flood.
And I, in the middle of the vastest of vast oceans, with not even the possibility of shipwreck, thought I would soon die, left entirely at the mercy of the elements. No calm will ever return, I remember thinking. No peace.
How guilty did I feel then. How ashamed. Because I didn’t see, or because I didn’t want to see, all the signs around me, around us. As I struggled to understand, to survive, to swim in the flood, my mind became a void. A void, with only one thought inhabiting it: my fault. More than the water itself, this sole thought was slowly killing me. More than the water, it was drowning me; I suffocated, and with each new breath came coughing and pain, cries in vain.
I couldn’t take any more and I gave up the struggle. But while I thought I would drop to the bottom and die, forgotten yet unforgiven, my body instead carried me up and I floated to the surface of the progressively calming water.
The one emotion which could survive the flood was hope. Hope of what, I didn’t know. But there it was, that little glimmer on the surface. That light which could be seen from even the deepest depths. The flood washed over me with the violence of death. Your death. The prospect of understanding was vain, like a lifeless stone violated by the power of waters. Yet hope survived, like the light leaf carried in the turmoil but always coming back to the surface.
The Swollen Sails
A passing feeling like the wind upon my face. The same wind that blows in sails, propelling me forward, always, into the vast horizon. The same wind whips my cheeks, leaving red marks on my skin. A horizon, open at great large. Red marks, contained on one face. And the wind, this moving power, ruling on both.
And the water. The water is so calm, not a wave all around. As if the wind only brushed its surface without ever disturbing it. Like a beautiful couple walking hand in hand toward the same horizon, under the same sky, with the freedom as witness. Freedom.
A freedom so fragile, so vulnerable, like the passing feeling and the soft wind. Like the clouds, slowly parting and leaving their white foam on the bluest sky. Like a trail to follow into that horizon, which seems to draw back and back and back, never to let itself be met. Never to be mastered. Like freedom.
And the light. So much light, as if night had been turned off, never to come again to shade that light. Light pouring from the sky, in endless immaterial rains, which leave you blinded and tired, and yet hopeful and advancing. Advancing always in this travel to nowhere, in this quest of no place, in this escape to the horizon. On this wet road of freedom.
A freedom so cherishingly wanted. But once obtained, a strangely unknown feeling, like the wind brushing the surface of the water. A freedom so vast, so light, that it seems ethereal. As if it was gone so soon as gained. Perpetually escaping. Like the clouds, and the wind.
Like a liquid with no container, freedom flows and traps me in the chains of its constant pursuit. Once reached, it feels so void that I wonder what impostor took its place. And again, the ballet continues. With sails swollen by the wind, with cheeks whipped by the wind, on water smooth as glass, under light as white as a dream. Moving on, hoping, advancing, persevering.
Onward to the line of the horizon, the only stability in sight. But never to be attained.
With you gone, I’m free of your chains. With you gone, I can embark and heave new sails. With you gone, I can move forward. With you gone, I can feel the wind on my cheeks. The lashes of the wind. The illusion of freedom. Its trap. The white emptiness and the blinding light.
Sails swollen by the wind are leading me into the horizon. A horizon so empty of chains that it must be freedom. And the light hiding me away from the shadows, where you disappeared. And that wind beating me, forcing me to go on, forcing me to be free. And the water so clear that it makes the road obvious. Obvious as the only one to possibly choose.
A forced freedom, thrown on me, whipping me, blinding me. Freedom.
The Rock Cave
The rock is so grand that it makes me feel small. Humility. It is so sharp and smooth that I feel so imperfect in comparison. An imperfect life. A high ceiling over a deep cave. Dark and yet so luminous; black rock and green water.
And I, there, lost as a child without the protection of its parents. Wandering with no goal, my feet submerged already. Looking up into the big vault, my eyes get lost in admiration. Such beauty surrounds me. But how can such beauty be part of such a dark place? I suddenly wonder. How can it fill me with such emotion when it is only an empty cave? Empty.
Empty. And humble. Like a cave of dark rocks with water rising. Emotions gone from my soul have traveled to that cave. Have filled it with echoes of your name. It resounded and resounded and slowly, so very slowly, was taken over by water. Leaving the cave empty.
Empty like a road with no goal. A path to nowhere. A circle of memories and echoes. A cave in which I get lost, while thinking there is a pattern, a way to follow to get out. But I walk in circles, all the while looking around at the endless beauties of the place. Endless, like the void, and like the tides flooding it.
Empty like my heart, deserted of the echoes of your name, and where only tides of emotions come and go.
The Lost Crops
Drenched and dripping, the crops are waiting for the sun. For a chance to try again. Water has flooded them, destroyed their growth, destroyed their hope. But it has not killed them. Like patient fallen angels, they will wait for the time of their second chance. Like sorry abandoned children, they will have faith in the helpful stranger whose generous hand is yet to be found.
Drenched perhaps, but not doomed, the crops lay now under the sun. After the flood, calm is restored. Now silence and clear skies reign over the crops. A silence so present that it seems to stop time and trap all around in an oppressive vise. A glass vise clenched tightly on my heart, making the abandoned crops of my drenched feelings sweat under the violent sun.
Feelings destroyed by the flood. Taken away, uprooted, spilled and spoiled. And then abandoned to their fate. Like lost crops, laying under the sun. Like unfruitful seeds, waiting to be given another chance. Fallen feelings into the pit of the flooded soul.
Does the sun bring hope? Or does it finish the flood’s oeuvre by burning the drenched feelings until they evaporate into dreadful oblivion? Burning the feelings away, healing the pain by evaporation. Cleansing the flooded bad crops to make room for improvement. Improvement of a better crop, of a new start.
Forgetting certain feelings, to make room for others.
The bluest of blue skies, where not a single cloud, even the highest and furthest of them, can be seen, is only pierced by the sun. The sun, a white beam, giving its blue to the sky, and making the sand so hot and dry. Dry, but only on the surface, for deep in the sandy waves runs water. Just a few drops, merely enough to sustain the scarce plants that struggle to grow through the sand.
A landscape seemingly docile, quiet, and human-free. Except for the threatening teeth and claws of the metal which breaks and invades the beach with its ghastly presence. Anchors abandoned, aligned in a neat cemetery of shipwrecked specters. All of them once attempted to sail on, but, stuck in the sand, the anchors trapped them.
Now specters err in the metal cemetery under the hot sun and the blue sky. In the dryness. After the flood. All water’s gone, and only remains the ancient ruins of once hopeful ships, no more now than funereal ornaments to the deserted beach. Like freedom is a gloomy decoration to my soul deserted of love.
As if heated by the sun, love has gone in vapors disappearing in the blue sky. Like the dry sand whose smooth surface is pierced by wild plants and broken by metal anchors, a loveless soul with a soft composure is disturbed by surprise and shaken by freedom. The anchor ornaments seem to be intruding on the dry, unemotional heart.
After the Flood
Tiny crystalline algae, as thin as a fairy’s hair, as transparent as a light thread, are exposed to the sun for the first time. For the first time, water has retreated, the flood has gone, liberating the innocent plants. Their uneven shapes make them unique, each with its own specificity, its own individuality.
Pointing out to the sun, like arms stretched to freedom, they yearn for light and fresh air. In colors gold and silver, they discover a new atmosphere, devoid of water and fear. They will grow and grow, develop the little boughs of silver, stabilize the strong roots of gold. Always bathed in light, they will keep the trace of water in their bosom, and it will shine with an inner brilliance, like blue ice on the horizon.
A new atmosphere, a new world, a new beginning. After the flood. After the catastrophe. After the panic, and after the loss. A reconstruction with eyes turned to the future, and arms stretched to the sun. Almost a new birth. An innocence reclaimed. A will to see more of life, in other places, in another time.
An innocence reclaimed. But an untrue and impossible innocence, for the trace of the flood, the experience of death remains. Remains like frozen water in my heart, blue ice on the horizon. An obstacle in my future? No, a starting-block. A point of departure for a new life. After the flood.
The light of the sun will feed the crystalline algae in their growth toward the sky. The light of the sun will guide my soul in its growth toward the future. In colors of gold and silver, innocence will bloom and lead me out of the panic, away from the loss. Pointing out to the sun, like the thin plants, my arms will stretch to freedom.
Each piece of my soul, like one silver bough of the crystalline algae, comes together at last. As the flood evaporates under the sun, my body, like one of the gold roots of the little plants, touches ground at last. After the bruise your death left on my heart is cured by time, I can live again at last.
Copyright © 2016 Sandrine Spycher. All rights reserved.