6th, 7th, 8th January, '17
The funeral guests follow the coffin out of the chapel into blazing sunlight. We're listening to the adult purr of Charles Trenet's La Mer. Our friend is there mingling on the pavement with her own & suddenly gone mother's family & friends. We waved from our hearts, i explain. We had Charles Trenet's permission to return to the sea --mother of all elements, elemental mother... Our friend's given names --Franceska Jurate Kristina, like the sea a complex manifold. Lithuania, Russia, Germany, Europe, Australia. Imbroglio that is legacy, discordantly chorused as history, life-long striving for singularity sounded through fracture.
Swish motorboat anchored on water's edge. Black-gleaming outboard motor like a gun-mounting. 30-something dad on board relaxing, all the time in the world, waiting for young teen son who's picking way across the sand with ice-cream cones & large bag of potato-chips from the kiosque. Helps him aboard. The two laze on the deck, eating, taking in the view including yours truly swimming, keeping clear of their mooring rope. Now father & son bob in the water, pull boat away from the shallows. Father & son could do anything & everything together. Son's The Man in lieu of dad's work-mates or brothers. Son is forever the long awaited one, manifestation of own childhood regained, happenstance twin signifying far deeper than reflection, so atavism pronounces its own relations. Now another dad & boy stride off the beach & into the water with rubber-ring to skid & bounce off the surface, footy leap & catch, dive, matching throw for throw, cry Oh & Aah, crow claim to Elwood Beach champions.
Dried, dressed, sitting on foreshore bench, wondering how safe is the blow-up plastic dingy & the tiny children within it which their mother --perhaps their sister? hardly larger than the kids --attempts repeatedly to launch on a wave. Couldn't it so easily propel into deep water? Concurrent image then of those children on the wild beach at Mount Lavinia, gleefully jumping the waves which suddenly became enveloping, overwhelming monstrous maelstrom --and the men on the beach, slow to react, but then brothers & fathers & uncles to a man, frantically, furiously swimming out to the tragedy occurring before them --everyone on the beach, then, shouting, calling, crying, then cheering, laughing, congratulating the rescue, embracing their almost drowned children --and i mean theirs, this Ceylonese community, fishermen & hotel workers & the village infrastructure around the foreign tourists, their avoidance of tragedy, their communal deliverance --i was 19yearold sailor boy, secretly courting the Scottish hairdressers --where was the Fairstar? --how far from the port this storm-ridden resort? --could have been witnessing stomach-turning disaster as if nightmare story expelled from out of one's own sick feelings --journey's excitement & education but simultaneously perilous, on one's sailorboy tod, no one but no one to save my soul, no body that is, but some books surely and the pen & paper by which one confessed, call it journal or novel or poem of the boiling blue sea, the dark blue day, the blue dark night, as many hours of the day that were free of roster & crew's assumed obligation to the Company & one another… And when a man in familiar lifesaver yellow & red gear walked by, yelling into megaphone, i thought he was reacting to the potential danger of the little family in the plastic float, but then heard him say we had to clear the beach, the beach was being temporarily closed because SHARK had been sighted in St Kilda, a hop & a skip down the road… SHARKS! now that's a first for Elwood, friendly as a back-yard pool… SHARKS!