Hanks of dark clouds. One glowing eye. The full moon. Spits of rock. Braided ribbons froth over the break water. Storm weeps on the land. Falling, stamping its foot on the beach. Footprint of the sky. Crash and thunder of waves, rising and swinging, seeking the soft underbreath of the waiting world.
We will never be the same. The seals give birth. Tails lift. Red bulging, writhing. Balloon of wriggling bloody seal birth. Seal pup hungers its way out, biting its placenta. Cannibalistic. Sea gulls squawk. Greedy midwives peck and pull the afterbirth in sharp beaks. Tear it to bite-sized pieces. Invocation to the ancient Gods, this shrine of becoming.
Based on this new piece in the Womvichorate Mode: (indebted to, departing from Snyder & some rheomode perhaps).
(verb) To womvichorate: (roots) woman, women, womb, belly, (vide),see, speak chorus, core, coeur, heart, orate.
speaking as I, woman.
vide/ seeing, eye-centering
wom/ body-centering, woman, women, womb
chor/ invoking communal speech
chorate/ speaking together, centering in the body
womvi/ woman/women sight, woman/women seeing
womvichorate/ woman/women seeing, I speak what I/we speak what we /see
The Story of “Honesty,” the Seal Pup
I womvichorate: I, woman, see and speak this. February 2010. Nothing I could have imagined. A full moon night on the southern California coast with a storm frothing at the mouth of the cove, high as my shoulder, huge and hungering waves with whetted appetites. The pier was closed by the coast guard, so I stood at the railing looking down toward the small beach at the mouth of the cove where every day a few seals gave birth. Their huge bloated bellies bulging and rutting, they would suddenly lift their tails and drop from a height a transparent red balloon with a dripping writhing wriggling mass of bloody baby seal onto the sand. The sea gulls, their midwives, would peck and pull the afterbirth like elastic bands stretched to breaking; then they would gobble greedy up the bloody mass, with their sharp beaks tearing it to bite-sized pieces.
Because I was working for some months with Marine Mammal Rescue, I witnessed your birth; so like a kind of honorary distant relative, I got to name you. "Honesty." God knows why! Many other newborn seals were being named Flipper and Dipper and Snapper, and Boppy and Boopy. So I watched you day after day, as you started to swim with your mother teaching you how to take a wave. What joy to see you two! Her way of teaching, your way of playing. For ten days, I would come at dawn, and every morning your mother would patiently take you to safely negotiate the small waves in the cove, teaching you when to dive, how to dive, and you would sometimes lie on your back with a bird sunning on your belly, and your mother would gently nudge you to roll over and try again to meet a wave. Every day I felt your safety and confidence increasing as you became plumper and a better swimmer, though still it would be many more weeks before she would take you out beyond the breakwater.
Till this night. The full moon night. I was standing towards midnight with a white globious moon and a storm approaching, giant tides, the kind that thrill us to the core with their sound like thunder and the power of legions. You and your mother were standing face-to-face on a rock. I will never forget. Eye-to-eye. I saw the mesmerizing glance between you. Your mother was facing the sea. And you, so tiny, only 10 days old, on a rock with your back to the intense immensity, facing her. Just a few feet apart. I saw the steadiness of the stare between you, both of you in your dark fur glowing in full moon light, your eyes glimmering dark holes holding each other, holding each other in a rapt gaze.
Then I heard the roar, louder than I had ever heard before, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a wave leap over the breakwater, rush around sweeping with increasing height and foam of spray speeding towards you. I could not believe the height and power of what I was seeing as the wave swept over you, grabbing you by the throat in its gauzy white scarf. It dressed you for the evening then flung you out to sea, dragged you under, faster than I could think. I held you by force of will in your mother's gaze, willing you to return on the next wave. A smaller wave. But you were gone. Just as quick as that. Quicker than thought. Banished. I looked quickly at your mother to see if I could detect her sealy grief, but I could not see her emotions except that she waited, as I did, waited patiently for a moment to see if you might return. We waited through the next smaller wave, and the next, and then she turned, sooner than I, but then she knew it was over and heavily willed herself up the embankment of the beach, out of reach of the rest of the night's big waves.
I dragged myself away as if drugged, and I came back the next morning and the next, naively hoping for a miracle, hoping I would see you, hoping you had returned. There were other births, many other seal pups playfully learning to swim with their mothers, as if nothing had happened the night before on the beach. But Honesty, you disappeared that full moon night, and now your mother was alone. Who would say? Who, who saw the rapt gaze in which you held each other, the last vision before you were swept into the dark – who could honestly say that you and your mother didn’t have feelings, didn’t feel something deep and mysterious, beneath the flash of terror -- something like what we call “love”; something like what we call “grief”?