(or “How do I Absorb Even the Tiniest Amount of Beauty Without Exploding?”)
by Claire Sicherman
The wing of a gull, the expanse of the Salish Sea, nose tingles with the briny smell of seaweed, a line of dried salt crust up my leg, the way the sun sparkles a quick staccato on water, it’s too bright to stare at but I do anyway and my eyes blink and blink at the sun spots now burned in, and I’m on my favourite rock, the big flat one that bakes in the sun, and I lie down but only for a few moments because my son wants to play that game, you know the one where he throws a rock and it has to bounce a certain number of times on the surrounding rocks before it plunks into the water and sinks for two hundred points, one bounce gets only a hundred, or there’s the other game where he tosses a rock into the sea and then we each throw another one to see who can get closer to the target, which is now no longer a rock at all but just the rings, rippling in the water, and although my son has a baseball arm, I can hold my own, and my husband is on the opposite side of the cove looking for the purple sea stars that have disappeared because of some disease called sea star wasting syndrome where lesions emerge and then tissues decay and eventually their bodies wither and their arms fall off and they die except for their arms can keep writhing around even after they twist and fall off their bodies, which is similar to a fish once you bonk it and gut it and the heart keeps beating and my son does the bonking and my husband rips it open and my son runs over and puts his finger on the beating heart and feels it pulse, it keeps going even though the fish is dead, and my son runs off because he’s bored and there are ants to trap and wasps to zap and the heart keeps beating in rhythm to this place where giant octopi live under the deck and where I once saw a seal give birth in the water, the umbilical cord dragging, but still attached to her pup, just below the surface.
Claire Sicherman is the author of Imprint: A Memoir of Trauma in the Third Generation. She facilitates journalling circles and writing retreats on Salt Spring Island. She is excited to be part of the Whistler Writers Festival in October.