The world is in another orbit as gravity spins me back like a restless ghost to Orcas Island where my daughter is caught in the tides of heartbreak after being forsaken by her young husband . He is gone , seeking divorce … she is left behind holding their newborn .
Dropping me off at the Traverse City airport , my brother is kind .
” You will travel in a land of marvels “, I quote as I say goodbye and he looks at me questioningly , ” it’s from Jules Verne “.
” Just call me when you get there , I’ll be here to pick you up in two weeks “.
” OK Dave , I will …. Thanks , love you “.
Resembling a catacomb , her house crowded with a marriage destroyed and relics of hope and commitment left smashed and deserted like those crooked , paint chipped buildings from my photo series taken on my bicycle of ” places where no one is anymore “. Now her house , her soul , her wavy distressed mind hearing lyrics even when there were none , trying to make sense where there is none . This is the universe of mountains and rivers , of bread and wine , the world of poverty of human nature where man is left in sorrow … ” Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted “.
This Pacific Northwest Island , an island of narrow bridges overgrown with wet moss and fern from constant rain falling where fog clings to the forest , holds a musky stench from oysters and fish , a rancid breath seeping into everything … the black bay so unlike the pure , clean , fresh waters of Lake Michigan . The difference like that between stagnate unwashed hair and shampooed soft , silky locks that swing when you walk . I miss home … the light that reflects everywhere , it is not here , the coffee not the same . But I have no right to lament as sorrow lays itself down in this house of my family .
I escape after long days into music listening to Ringos drum playing . He plays the heartbeat ( his secret of greatness ), perhaps this islands secret too held in the sound of the flapping wings of bald eagles who were here first before man . Everything starts with the heartbeat , our mothers heartbeat , life’s heartbeat and it sets the rhythm for the rest of our days . This is the connection between life and emotion , this drumbeat where the most important part of music is found . And the beat is subtle to me in the hamlet of Glen Arbor but here it is too loud , overpowing the quitar and the voices of the robins and the winds moving thru the branches of maple and oak trees I hear back home . And where have the stars gone ? They are lost in the presence of these tall pines on jutting mountain places . Melancholy forebodes in this strangely paradoxical place , stark and murky both where whales don’t linger long after feeding on other abundant species far below the earth . The landscape reminding me of an Escher drawing with its sharp angles , unexpected turns and mysterious depths , the whales juxdiposed in fluidity … another contradiction . Even though the streets have magical names like , Enchanted Forest Road , Fossil Bay Drive , and Owl Lane , I’m frightened of driving these roads , so dark that my eyes sting from squinting for the light . An onerous recollection of past years here haunts me of stumbles in a thicket , a thicket filled with thorns at every turn drawing blood . I think God is unjust now , unjust to my dear daughter . There is a sign over the door in a movie I can’t remember the title of , the sign says , ” How long will they last ?” It’s that Jane Fonda film where the dancers , the marathon dancers are hanging so desperately onto eachother , so exhausted that they can barely hold their heads up while their sore feet shuffle , shuffle in slow motion. This is the dance I find my daughter in . “This life is long isn’t it ? We’ll do better in another life , with other gods to watch over us “, she once told me .
I can feel the slow spinning of the earth where across the continent of America , in another place and time , a boy of residual aching youthfulness is honoring his grandmother by presenting her with a slain deer and here , now , on this island my own little grand daughter removes a lollipop from her mouth and kisses the image in a glass frame saying , ” good night daddy ” as I draw the voluminous silk grey curtains lest she be on full view of strangers who loom . The wooden flute sounds just a sigh and I wonder of my life back home , my brother , the familiar faces of the coffee shop employees , that man who sits and writes there nearly as much as I do , his relaxed frame folded in the cafes leather armchair , his blue eyes searching the rooms four corners as if trying to see something beyond its walls … the days of my last chapter before my own heart stops where I’ve found the lighthouse at the end of the world , where the strongest urge is to write the story of my brother and his three mates tragedy while still somehow trying to make it into a love story .
On the ferry boat returning home there is an eerie pause of water and wind , the sky appearing like a single pearl and the ocean solid as if I could walk across it and I can hear the sound with absolute clarity of a lonely whale breaking the surface thousands of miles away . The loneliest whale in the world does exist . Scientist have been tracking her since 1992 and they know the problem . Her voice is unlike any other whale . No other whales can hear her as she sings at a higher frequency . She is alone . And it is here on this boat that I sense Gods infinite and benevolent hands of compassion holding my daughter and all of us away from the dizzingly crowded Picadilly Circus of confusion where every blade of grass has a shadow behind it . I tell myself to get it together … but get what together ? I’m bewildered . Thoughts are racing fast like the train racing south from Seatle in a streak of silver and blue to the east coast at 200 miles an hour …
” You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars , you have a right to be here . Whether or not it is clear to you , no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should … with all its sham , drudgery and broken dreams , it is still a beautiful world “. Max Ehrman
Note : girl with fawn by Katerina Plotnikova
Photo of my daughter