There is a wall. On one side of it

the sea: alive, virulent blue,

never still, deceptive in the beauty of the colors

coding its depths. It hides

things; it hides

the complexity of life

that it is.

Near the sea is the sand, shifting.

A single organism at a glance; come closer,

come closer and it dissolves into its millions;

it will swallow you; it will warm your ochre skin

with the heat from the sun it has,

through the impossible distance,

borrowed and held on to; it will

burn the soles of your feet

as you run to the sea, it will whispercry

as you run, fleeing beneath your feet, sliding

closer to its imminent betrayal in the water.

In the sea is the whale, and like the sea

she has a thousand names. She sings

and the particles in your body know the song,

respond and pull you inexorably closer

to the edge of the water.

You do not hear her song. It has no words

as the dry land knows them,

because the ocean’s is another language altogether.

But the body knows this language

and speaks in tides

with the moon.

The language of sand is spoken far from the sea,

where water is only whispered of,

in the driest desert. The whale’s song bounces off the wall

but her eyes are closed in the pleasure of her singing

and she does not see,

she knows only

that another song comes back, entwines itself

around the first.

How does the whale know the song so well

as to send it


back? It has no eyes, no ears, no mouth.

It is cold and still sings back; it is built of old reflections.

The wall.

On one side the sea; on the other, the mountains

made of rock: infinite particles of sand stuck together by something

unseen, by pressure; painted brown or black or grey or red;

covered again by the colors of the seasons:

green; taupe in the winter when the grass is drying; brown; white-spotted

black-stemmed aspens opening into green, yellowing, then orange leaves; white with cold,

then opening to the welcoming respite of spring

into untouched spectrums of wildflowers

combusting into being.

The colors of the sea remain unimagined by mountains, hidden by the wall.

The wall knows the songs of seasons,

echoes them around the strong rises in earth

and lets the sea sing its own changes.

The whale changes her song,

drawing different patterns to describe her

understanding of separations and forces in her surroundings.

Where are you standing, your body made up of water and earth and changes?

You, a particle in the midst of the chaos of moving worlds.

You are an envelope containing everything:

in your eye is reflected the universe, while

there you are

next to the sea; atop the mountain.

Every star beyond your reach, and you speak as if you know them, as if

they are the skin of your skin, part of your flesh; as if,

carbonized like diamonds, they adorn your fingers, infinitesimal and grand.

This is the story of your marriage to the universe,

this is the story of the wall that separates

and calls you


Words by Allegra Chabay. ©2000

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