Edge Effect

From: Edge Effect

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Edge Effect Arcadia Beach, Oregon Even under a petroglyphic coastalovercast, the sand flushes with a heat almost innocent, unhurt as it burns, and thus it is so often the purest place for us as children. Now, when we imprint its edge, we know it will wash. While we may squint, itsglint is broken lenses. Rubbing sand in my palm, I feel vision in that hand. I see to reach outside the wet breathing ribcage of the horizon. At my blind side, basalt: shearable, towerable, and able to abide long hours and averageeons. The cliff houses its resident eyes in caves, in nests, down crevices, in hives. Ships, if sensitive, may feel watched. And underfoot, beneath goat-stepping wet opals of old toenails, whole orbits of washed-in sea gooseberries kindle a gaze up every few feet, glassies convexing the vista, oculists' models of the eye's hermaphroditic twin, paired in one single flesh as we, with two eyes in one head, are mated for sight. Merely to move forward, I tear draglines of gull prints, their scuffs slightstickiness to land before theyfly.Beneath gulls' high ride, 77 T W O : T R A I L S every second villager's the best imagist he or she can be for sea stacks'rough allure offshore. It's all the brush-fingered seem to see. Their garden or kitchen studios hatch water-slender watercolors, stout sumi-e outlines, stolen styles— expropriated eyes—of great but landlocked artists of any continent but this. They line the palisades, hold mirrors to the sea, even gladly to fog. The whole subduction zone calls painters for a briefing every day— and every day the wet description dries. But here, far up the littoral, I feel another congregation; I sense they are inspecting everything going by. Backbone, backbone, backbone of stones: Stack three, you have a god: a minor one improves on none. It's a beach outing for a gang of almighties. Each has a base, a trunk, a head, a jutting chin. Or driftwood eyebrows. They are more than pillars, rock on rock. One probes with seaweed field glasses, alert with poise not of the spy but of the curious, of the minerally secure: What's to be seen, its body language says, in this shred of humanity coursing north? I feel weather-cut edges of one watcher multiply, its brain stones' ordained postures aiming at the sea through any shore-searcher in the way. I feel stone necks risen to attention, each vertebra an observation deck. Against the cliff a pantheon. 78 Edge Effect No shadows on their cheeks, they are not grim. Gray, they are not whimsy. They stand up stark. What does "stark" mean anyway? Didn't Anne G.say my father-in-law George's weightroom "looked so stark"? Those dumbbells no longer made, their deadweight laid out in increments of hardship, increasing as hardship will, the barbells propped like desolate businessmen at the final gate of an airport concourse, present only to pick up another drear and cunning company joe whose name they hold penned on a pitiful placard. . . . Stark. Can it mean pure? utter? simple? strong? Sometimes I've seen eighty-year-oldGeorge standing on his head, upside-down power, arestacking of stones, right there on his gunboat-stern cement basement floor, rebuilding, rearranging the cairn, his body well-trained to be ancient, an Old World stonemason. Why should bone be the most solid-seeming part of a god around a mind? Isn't a skull just a showcase for eyes? The fact that feet in air come down, rocks tumble in time, deduce to abdomen, thorax, small insect head, almost back to diagram, that one frost crystalbrings the stone church to the ground, excuses or defends erecting this toppler while one can. Gods are hard. But longer life-tested sand is soft. I hear one rock fall, the highest stone, on point, fall backwards, and here we turn, we must turn, back, 79 T W O : T R A I L S as we would if we had any children with us, not ready to take them beyond the falling of the gods and yet permitting them to hear the softness of their landings, where wounds will bathe, bedded in sand, one edge rushing over to enfold the other. 80 ...


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