I went back to my cabin and lay down on my berth. Everything trembled as if it had a spring at its very center. I could hear the small waves lap-lapping around the ship. They made an unexpected sound, as if a vessel filled with liquid had been placed on its side and now was slowly emptying out.
But you're worried I'll get in trouble?" I try not to show how much this pleases me. I've managed to ignore him for days now and here I sit. Lapping up his attention like a neglected puppy. My voice takes on an edge. "Why do you care? I've ignored you for days." His smile fades. He looks serious, mockingly so. "Yeah. You got to stop that.
Alone, I relished the bird songs, the drone of hushed conversation from neighboring tables, and the gentle lapping of waves sliding on the shore. I didn't feel the passage of time. There was no destination propelling me forward, no past and no future. Each glorious moment was replaced by the next.
Far away, I could hear them lapping up my brains. Like Macbeth's witches, the three lithe cats surrounded my broken head, slurping up that thick soup inside. The tips of their rough tongues licked the soft folds of my mind. And with each lick my consciousness flickered like a flame and faded away.
What happiness it is to listen to rain at night; joyful relief, ease; a lapping-round and hushing and brooding tenderness, all are mingled together in the sound of the fast-falling rain. God, looking down upon the rainy earth, sees how faint are these lights shining in little windows, - how easily put out ...
Fueled by my inspiration, I ran across the room to steal the cup of coffee the bookshelf had taken prisoner. Lapping the black watery brew like a hyena, I tossed the empty cup aside. I then returned to the chair to continue my divine act of creation. Hot blood swished in my head as my mighty pen stole across the page.
The vestibule door opens onto a June morning so fine and scrubbed Classira pauses at the threshold as she would at the edge of a pool, watching the turquoise water lapping at the tiles, the liquid nets of sun wavering in the blue depths. As if standing at the edge of a pool she delays for a moment the plunge, the quick membrane of chill, the plain shock of immersion.
Myron lay sprawled next to a knee-knockingly gorgeous brunette clad only in a Class-B-felony bikini, a tropical drink sans umbrella in one hand, the aqua clear Caribbean water lapping at his feet, the sand a dazzling white powder, the sky a pure blue that could only be God's blank canvas, the sun a soothing and rich as a Swedish masseur with a snifter of cognac, and he was intensely miserable.
I am the woman at the water's edge, offering you oranges for the peeling, knife glistening in the sun. This is the scent and taste of my skin: citon and sweet. Touch me and your life will unfold before you, easily as this skirt billows then sinks, lapping against my legs, my toes filtering through the rivers silt. Following the current out to sea, I am the kind of woman who will come back to haunt your dreams, move through your humid nights the way honey swirls through a cup of hot tea
I wanted to feel the blood running back into my veins, even at the cost of annihilation. I wanted to shake the stone and light out of my system. I wanted the dark fecundity of nature, the deep well of the womb, silence, or else the lapping of the black waters of death. I wanted to be that night which the remorseless eye illuminated, a night diapered with stars and trailing comets. To be of night so frighteningly silent, so utterly incomprehensible and eloquent at the same time. Never more to speak or to listen or to think.
Then Nuvoletta reflected for the last time in her little long life and she made up all her myriads of drifting minds in one. She cancelled all her engauzements. She climbed over the bannistars; she gave a childy cloudy cry: Nuee! Nuee! A lightdress fluttered. She was gone. And into the river that had been a stream . . . there fell a tear, a singult tear, the loveliest of all tears . . . for it was a leaptear. But the river tripped on her by and by, lapping as though her heart was brook: Why, why, why! Weh, O weh! I'se so silly to be flowing but I no canna stay!
Nexus I wrote stubbornly into the evening. At the window, a giant praying mantis rubbed his monkey wrench head against the glass, begging vacantly with pale eyes; and the commas leapt at me like worms or miniature scythes blackened with age. the praying mantis screeched louder, his ragged jaws opening into formlessness. I walked outside; the grass hissed at my heels. Up ahead in the lapping darkness he wobbled, magnified and absurdly green, a brontosaurus, a poet.
Before I lost my father, I never understood the rituals surrounding funerals: the wake, the service itself, the reception afterward, the dinners prepared by well-meaning friends and delivered in plastic containers, even the popular habit of making poster boards filled with photos of the dear departed. But now I know why we do those things. It's busywork, all of it. I had so much to take care of, so many arrangements to make, so many people to inform, I didn't have a moment to be engulfed by the ocean of grief that was lapping at my heels. Instead, I waded through the shallows, performing task after task, grateful to have duties to propel me forward.
Suddenly I came out of my thoughts to notice everything around me again-the catkins on the willows, the lapping of the water, the leafy patterns of the shadows across the path. And then myself, walking with the alignment that only comes after miles, the loose diagonal rhythm of arms swinging in synchronization with legs in a body that felt long and stretched out, almost as sinuous as a snake... when you give yourself to places, they give you yourself back; the more one comes to know them, the more one seeds them with the invisible crop of memories and associations that will be waiting for when you come back, while new places offer up new thoughts, new possibilities. Exploring the world is one the best ways of exploring the mind, and walking travels both terrains.
Hazel blue anemone in a little SeaSide cave... drawing currents from the sea turquoise blue on sparkling waves. In ocean dreams, the poet waits by his grotto, passing days. Rhyming verse, his mind creates where his smiling Sea Nymph plays. The lapping seas of emerald green stir the poet's fantasy neath crystal skies aquamarine and cotton clouds that drift so free... Ageless are the diamond sands that stretch across this heaven shore... With quill in hand, this poet stands by Neptune's realm forevemore...
The way God squandered Himself had always hurt her; and annoyed her too. The sky full of wings and only the shepherds awake. That golden voice speaking and only a few fishermen there to hear; and perhaps some of the words He spoke carried away on the wind or lost in the sound of the waves lapping against the side of the boat. A thousand blossoms shimmering over the orchard, each a world of wonder all to itself, and then the whole thing blown away on a southwest gale as though the delicate little worlds were of no value at all. Well, of all the spendthrifts, she would think and then pull herself up. It was not for her to criticize the ways of Almighty God; if He liked to go to all that trouble over the snowflakes, millions and millions of them, their intricate patterns too small to be seen by human eyes, and melting as soon as made, that was His affair and not hers. All she could do about it was to catch in her window, and save from entire waste, as much of the squandered beauty as she could.
The distant sea, lapping the sandy shore with measured sound; the nearer cries of the donkey-boys; the unusual scenes moving before her like pictures, which she cared not in her laziness to have fully explained before they passed away; the stroll down to the beach to breathe the sea-air, soft and warm on the sandy shore even at the end of November; the great long misty sea-line touching the tender-coloured sky; the white sail of a distant boat turning silver in some pale sunbeam: - it seemed as if she could dream her life away in such luxury of pensiveness, in which she made her present all in all, from not daring to think of the past, or wishing to contemplate the future.
The water was lapping around my waist by the time Ivy and Gabriel found me. I was shivering, but I hardly noticed. I didn't move or speak, not even when Gabriel lifted me out of the water and carried me back to our house. Ivy helped me into the shower, and came to help me out half an hour later when I'd forgotten where I was and just stood under the pounding water. Gabriel bought me some dinner, but I couldn't eat it. I sat on my bed, staring into space and doing nothing but thinking of Xavier and trying not to think of him at the same time. The separation made me realize just how safe I felt with him. I craved his touch, his smell, even the awareness that he was nearby. But now he felt miles away, and I couldn't reach him, and that knowledge made me feel ready to crumble, to cease to exist.
At the edge of the still, dark pool that was the sea, at the brimming edge of freedom where no boat was to be seen, she spoke the first words of the few they were to exchange. 'I cannot swim. You know it?' In the dark she saw the flash of his smile. 'Trust me.' And he drew her with a strong hand until the green phosphorescence beaded her ankles, and deeper, and deeper, until the thick milk-warm water, almost unfelt, was up to her waist. She heard him swear feelingly to himself as the salt water searched out, discovered his burns. Then with a rustle she saw his pale head sink back into the quiet sea and at the same moment she was gripped and drawn after him, her face to the stars, drawn through the tides with the sea lapping like her lost hair at her cheeks, the drive of his body beneath her pulling them both from the shore. They were launched on the long journey towards the slim shape, black against glossy black, which was the brigantine, with Thompson on board.
Finally when he climbed below deck after dark, wondering where his dinner was, perhaps with a storm come up and rough seas and blinding rains, I'd sulk and lure him into the warm and steamy darkness and from the hairs of his warm body I'd breed a myriad smiling, sparkle-eyed one-year-olds, my broods, my flocks. In the churning seas, below the waves, together inside our hammock woven in coarse sailcloth by Unguentine's deft hands, a spherical webbed sack which hung and swivelled between the two walls of our bedroom, we would spin round and round with lapping tongues and the soft suction of lips, whirling, our amorous centrifuge, all night long, zipped inside against the elements. Now, years and years later, those nights, the thought and touch of them is enough to make me throw myself down on the ground and roll in the dust like a hen nibbled by mites, generating clouds, stars and all the rest.
He rolled his eyes and took my hand. His hand was hard and calloused, tough with muscle and old scars. The night settled around us like a blanket. I could hear the water lapping against the dock. We were totally alone. 'You're... , ' he began, and I waited, heart throbbing in my throat. 'Such a pain, ' he concluded. 'What?' I asked, just as his head swooped in and his mouth touched mine. I tried to speak, but one of Fang's hands held the back of my head, and he kept his lips pressed against me, kissing me softly but with a Fanglike determination. Oh, jeez, I thought distractedly. Jeez, this is Fang, and me, and... Fang tilted his head to kiss me more deeply, and I felt totally lightheaded. Then I remembered to breathe through my nose, and the fog cleared a tiny bit. Somehow we were pressed together, Fang's arms around me now, sliding under my wings, his hands flat against my back. It was incredible. I loved it. I loved him. It was a total disaster. Gasping, I pulled back. 'I, uh-, ' I began oh so coherently, and then I jumped up, almost knocking him over, and raced down the dock. I took off, flying fast, like a rocket.
Suddenly William loomed over him, scowling, snarling and bloody, his suit dirt-stained and ripped. 'Do you know. How many strands. Of hair I lost. On my way down?' Whatever. 'Math was never my thing, but I'm gonna say you lost... a lot.' Electric-blues glittered with menace. 'You are a cruel, sadistic bastard. My hair needs TLC and you... you... Damn you! I've gutted men for less.' 'I know. I've watched you.' Paris lumbered to his feet and scanned the rocky bank they stood upon, the crimson ocean lapping and bubbling in every direction. The drawbridge was only a fifty-yard dash away. 'Don't kill the messenger, but I'm thinking you should change your dating profile to balding.' Masculine cheeks went scarlet as the big bad warrior struggled for a comeback... 'One of these days you're going to wake up, ' William finally said, 'and I will have shaved you. Everywhere.' 'Won't make a difference. Women will still want me. But you know what else? What I did to you wasn't cruel, Willy.' He offered the warrior a white-flag grin. A trick. A lie. 'This, however, is.' He grabbed William by the wrist, swung the man around and around before at last releasing him and hurling his body directly onto the bridge.
The night before brain surgery, I thought about death. I searched out my larger values, and I asked myself, if I was going to die, did I want to do it fighting and clawing or in peaceful surrender? What sort of character did I hope to show? Was I content with myself and what I had done with my life so far? I decided that I was essentially a good person, although I could have been better-but at the same time I understood that the cancer didn't care. I asked myself what I believed. I had never prayed a lot. I hoped hard, I wished hard, but I didn't pray. I had developed a certain distrust of organized religion growing up, but I felt I had the capacity to be a spiritual person, and to hold some fervent beliefs. Quite simply, I believed I had a responsibility to be a good person, and that meant fair, honest, hardworking, and honorable. If I did that, if I was good to my family, true to my friends, if I gave back to my community or to some cause, if I wasn't a liar, a cheat, or a thief, then I believed that should be enough. At the end of the day, if there was indeed some Body or presence standing there to judge me, I hoped I would be judged on whether I had lived a true life, not on whether I believed in a certain book, or whether I'd been baptized. If there was indeed a God at the end of my days, I hoped he didn't say, 'But you were never a Christian, so you're going the other way from heaven.' If so, I was going to reply, 'You know what? You're right. Fine.' I believed, too, in the doctors and the medicine and the surgeries-I believed in that. I believed in them. A person like Dr. Einhorn [his oncologist], that's someone to believe in, I thought, a person with the mind to develop an experimental treatment 20 years ago that now could save my life. I believed in the hard currency of his intelligence and his research. Beyond that, I had no idea where to draw the line between spiritual belief and science. But I knew this much: I believed in belief, for its own shining sake. To believe in the face of utter hopelessness, every article of evidence to the contrary, to ignore apparent catastrophe-what other choice was there? We do it every day, I realized. We are so much stronger than we imagine, and belief is one of the most valiant and long-lived human characteristics. To believe, when all along we humans know that nothing can cure the briefness of this life, that there is no remedy for our basic mortality, that is a form of bravery. To continue believing in yourself, believing in the doctors, believing in the treatment, believing in whatever I chose to believe in, that was the most important thing, I decided. It had to be. Without belief, we would be left with nothing but an overwhelming doom, every single day. And it will beat you. I didn't fully see, until the cancer, how we fight every day against the creeping negatives of the world, how we struggle daily against the slow lapping of cynicism. Dispiritedness and disappointment, these were the real perils of life, not some sudden illness or cataclysmic millennium doomsday. I knew now why people fear cancer: because it is a slow and inevitable death, it is the very definition of cynicism and loss of spirit. So, I believed.