All poems and other forms of writing contained herein are copyrighted by the author, Alicia Fisher, and may not be appropriated in any way without the author's expressed permission.
Monday, June 11, 2012
The LSD Journals excerpt #2
Under the Yellow Tent
South Carolina was a smothered tunnel and we were driving through it. The black roof of the Chevy glittered, caressed by the long girlish fingers of Spanish Moss. We rolled endless miles through sinewy, skinless heat. The day burned: it had to be 103 degrees---the sky was a livid fever, a blue baby born too early. Something clattered and screamed, like silverware in an overheated kitchen. The air conditioning had stopped working back in Georgia. My forehead was a plate of grease. The sundress I wore, the color of an underipe banana, clung to my ribs and belly. Chip was wearing nothing but cutoffs. His tan arm draped hopefully out the window, but there was no breeze. Only a blanket of damp, unbreathing air. “How far to Edisto?” I groaned. Chip lit a cigarette and told me a few more miles. His voice was hoarse and tired. I made scissors with my index and middle finger, the sign that I wanted a smoke. Thin blue clouds streamed from our mouths and didn’t fly out the permanently cranked-down windows but danced coyly above the dashboard. We stunk of armpits and Camels, two limp and sun-dulled vagabonds in our asthmatic black Chevy. All I could think about was the ocean. I was sick of the south, sick of crackly-looking roadside snakeskin, the endless billboard Jesuses and barbeque shacks. We’d been driving for days and days. I wanted a chilly, bitter beer. I could taste it sliding down my throat, the can’s cold sweat dousing my irate August fever.
Fifteen minutes later the ocean rose up and flashed its salty grey belly: the only thing between us was half a mile and piles of pale, silty dunes. My whole body opened up---I strained to see, as if I were looking into a faraway mirror or a reflective store window. And then I could smell it, haul it into my lungs: the dank, tremulous stink of seaweed; the heavy rind of salt-crusted fish. Soon we were in the parking lot. The car clunked and sighed to a stop, glittering blackly as the pavement. It had been a month since I’d seen the ocean. Chip reminded me to put my flip flops on or my feet would burn to a crisp as soon as they hit the tar. I slipped into my cheap rubber thongs and bolted from the shuddering car. The beachpath was a boiling line of packed sand which lead to a wide, dry expanse of soft sand. I ran straight into the thrilling sea, Chip right behind me. It was the anniversary of his dad’s death, and this was the beach where he and his mom and three siblings had spread the ashes nearly ten years ago. I dove into a wave and stayed under for as long as I could. The salient water pushed me back up: I felt colossal, purified and awake. Chip was next to me, splashing and laughing. We played in the water for a long time, like it was our private backyard pool. I kissed and licked the salt from his lips and felt my 19-year-oldness in a way I hadn’t before: greedy and fleeting, ardently physical. I was a luminous morning glory soon to close under the vigorous complaint of day. We held each other in the immense bowl of the ocean, a tangle of arms and legs---and a restive, sudden grief. Chip whispered my name; I looked into the boiling blur of the horizon where he pointed. At first I couldn’t tell what I was seeing. Slick grey lumps rose and fell in the water, creating a delicate raucous of waves. And then I saw them: dolphins. I knew from the many times Chip had told me that dolphins were his dad’s favorite animal. We were like astounded infants with God still in our bellies as we watched the dipping and rising gyrations of the dolphins, their savage-gentle glide. We watched until they became invisible against the immense grey-white skyline: the place where heaven and earth at once collides and divides. Tears dripped from Chip’s whiskered chin, mixing his human salts with the raw salts of the ocean. We’d come from Maine to Georgia and down to South Carolina---a crazy mix of brute battles and insatiable all-night love making. He’d wanted me to see the waters that had swallowed the precious detritus of his father. When the dolphins were gone Chip looked at me for a long time. His eyes were solemn green. Sea birds swooped frantically above us. Children came and went in their bright bathing suits and gigantic goggles. The sky over Edisto was a ragged yellow tent that seemed to be collapsing but would, I was sure, hold up.