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Facing the Rising Tide

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They lined up sparsely at the rails of the concrete wharf, propped casually on elbows pitched to avoid the sporadic mounting brackets for fishing gear. A couple of people had lines paid out, maybe fishing for something in the coming darkness or maybe just for the look of the thing.

The rising tide of shadow was the opposite of ocean, quietness in waves, like the spaces between waves out at the ocean. The white noise aggregate of distant engines, tires on roadways, wind in leaves and branches, sounds of shuffling and quiet conversation and breathing all faded in and out with the lazy pulses of the lapping night.

Ever since the... ever since the... you know. Ever since then, ever since that, people gather and face the other way at sunset, watching their shadows thrown for miles ahead of them, anywhere they care to stand a perfect place to watch the tides of darkness sidle up to them, sucking at their toes, lapping around their calves, tickling at their knees, licking up their thighs, insinuating itself higher and higher and by sensual degrees engulfing...

On the east coast, where the wharves already face the right direction at sunset, that was where people who first left their lines out realized that they were catching some of the oddness on their hooks -- scraps of comforting darkness to carry home in their buckets and coolers, shreds of old tattered memories and bittersweet fantasies, dreams blasted away by daylight on the other side of the world, visions of lovelier places and times chased away into the surf of darkness by the ugly, stark realities revealed by harsh light.

Ever since the... ever since the... you know. Ever since when it became impossible to scrub the images of horror off the concrete and tarmac, impossible to look at places where friends and loved ones once stood or sat or played, impossible to not see where joy and happiness once lived and now was blasted away in daylight.

Ever since then, we gather at the piers, at the wharves, at the rims of buildings and parking decks, chatting with friends or reverently silent, facing the rising tide of comforting, covering darkness with exhaustion, with relief, and, for some of the more unsettled and desperate of us, with lines out to snare whatever might be worth catching and bringing home in our buckets and coolers.


Posted by Laszlo Q. V. St-J. Xalieri

27th Jul 2009, 16:06   | tags:


Wow. The Google ads are in Greek for this one. I guess I should have used simpler syntax...


27th Jul 2009, 16:09

Dhamaka says:

sadly they're not in Greek for me

I needed this.. ever since the... ever since the... you know


27th Jul 2009, 20:00

MaggieD says:

Love the pic .... hey, I'll just cast my net ... and wait .....:)

27th Jul 2009, 20:06

I was wondering if this would dredge up painful memories from the... from the... you know. I hoped the image of people gathering together to find ways to cope and look for comfort would be a moderating factor. I decided to take the risk.

This was actually taken on July 4th. The people are on top of a parking deck, watching the sunset and waiting for it to get dark enough for fireworks. The lights on the deck were way stronger than the vanished sun, which is why the shadows are pointing the wrong way, making it look like they're facing the wrong way for watching the sunset....

Thanks, both of you. :)


27th Jul 2009, 23:25

Dhamaka NLI says:

actually it didn't. I really liked it and took the risk of your associating the two together because I felt that it was the only symmetrical/properly poetic response

I liked the piece, have missed your writing and would have answered that way even if I had not been diagnosed with breast cancer.

FWIW, I don't think I have been particularly traumatised by any of what has happened this year. Last year is another story but that too has passed.


27th Jul 2009, 23:51

See, we're still on different pages, because I was thinking about the tsunami.... How you're handling the breast cancer is so non-worrying in comparison to the impact of the other that it didn't even enter into my head, given the overwhelming more prominent oceanic imagery here....


27th Jul 2009, 23:58

Dhamaka says:

tsunami well over and dealt with. Even when I write about water or think back in detail. Even when I bring back the images that recurred as part of the the PTS. No problems there at all
and could you correct the chemo-brain grammar in my posts for me please..

28th Jul 2009, 09:13

Dhamaka says:

oh and the thing that keeps drawing my eye in this shot is that guy on the fold-up chair facing.. the wall?

(edit) and I understand he's just waiting, it still looks totally weird

28th Jul 2009, 09:14

Without any context, this may be one of the strangest WTF pictures I've ever taken....


28th Jul 2009, 19:33

jc1000000 says:

Ah so it was the tsunami! That's what immediately sprang to mind to me.

2nd Sep 2009, 23:32

Dhamaka says:

it still seems to me to be more about a flash fire, possibly nuclear or possibly something indelibly emotional. Maybe from whatever happend in Salt(a) Pillar. Certainly about and the way that these people adapted emotionally to life in its aftermath (although the comforting darkness could also be considered more substantial and insidious than that)

20th Sep 2009, 15:48

In fact the primary image I had in mind for this piece was some form of nuclear blast or similar, maybe world-wide wreckage from a gamma ray burst even, that left things in such ruin that the world was easier to handle with the lights out, when it was easier to imagine buildings still standing and trees still intact and all of the missing bustle.

As for turning to the darkness as a salve, that's up in the air as to whether its an appropriate strategy. My view is it probably is as long as you're working during the day to fix things....


20th Sep 2009, 17:17