Words are the last to wane. Outliving feeling, they cling: barnacles on the underside of our long-capsized boat. I have written them to grip; they are meant to make promises, meant to melt ambivalence, perhaps even meant to sting, if stinging means they’ve touched you. These words want to plug the hole, want to right us. These words want to float oars out to us; they want to write us rudders. If they reach you, will you help me row? Only that. Will help me row?
Here is a bottle full of unaddressed issues. Here is what I say when I’m certain you want to hear nothing. When whispered aloud, these words are their own sea, a beacon: illumination, after you’ve stopped looking. You are lost on a part of the sea where land is a mere suggestion. For you, this is not loss; this is laughable: a scattered rain. (For me, it is a nor’easter.) You don’t want to be set sailing again, not by words — or at least, not by mine. You want salt, the sun on a thousand ripples; things within which you will find a greater portion of yourself. You want the life you can see on the face of the water, the song — just the song — of the siren who writhes at the bottom. You want the same grappling of the crabs in the cage you’ve crafted of broken boat parts. There is something in the tightness, in camaraderie with clawing things, that calms you.
But here, you are freer than you’ve been. When procured like this, freedom is simply a different confinement.
It will be, as it’s always been, your own ideas that ease you. May they ever be more useful to you than these watery words. Of course you can sustain yourself more easily alone. You’ll subsist on the reminder of the many friends who bring you laughter and wisdom rather than this surfeit of bottled sadness.
I am told there are other men in the sea, that they are slick as fish, but when their pulse finds itself under the right warm fingers, they will not long to wriggle free. I am often possessed of the stillness and patience it takes to grasp what intends to elude. I would be fine with hands held underwater for hours, for days, for decades.
But these words wish to wait, and they are wearying. They wish to urge you toward a day when love is an immediate shore and not eventual flotsam we must fashion into rafts. They do not want slick men like fish. They want the man who only prefers the sea because he has forgotten the feel of land.