3 AM

The night, I think, is darker than we can really say
And god’s been living in that ocean, sending us all the big waves
And I wish I was a sailor so I could know just how to trust
Maybe I could bring some grace back home to the dry land for each of us

--Gregory Alan Isakov, "3 AM"

So I'm home now, whatever home means and after so much time has passed. Days. Years. Island time has stretched me, mellowed me, unspooled me. I haven't worn a watch in over a decade, but now I've stopped asking for the time, glancing at my phone, checking social media. I don't know how long it took me to return to this landlocked town; it was a ten-hour flight but it seemed longer. The time change, the hours spent waiting at airports. In one of them, sometime past midnight, I made a bed on the floor in a vacant corner and dozed for a bit; drowsing in and out, trying to decode the cryptic patterns on the carpet. I wondered idly if all human designs are pieces of a larger whole, a cosmic pattern that tells the story of the multiverse. Right there on the carpet, the answer to every question humanity has ever thought to ask, and all we do is hurry over it, cursing; or wend our way through a crowd, noses planted in our smartphones. We don't see, we fail to wonder. Maybe we have even forgotten what questions to ask, or how to read the stars at our feet.

Back in the middle of the continent, I miss the salt air. My ears strain for the perpetual sound of the waves returning over and over again, whispering the same few words. They are such good, soothing words; such vital words, for the ocean to say them so many times. Here on my inland couch, stranded in my living room, I feel my body rocking as if I've just come off a boat. If I close my eyes I sway involuntarily with the currents of an ocean whose shores begin some fifteen hundred miles away. I could turn around right now and go back there, tonight. I could walk into the waves under a half-moon and feel the ocean's cool embrace. I could swim with Honu, the sea turtle and Kohola, the whale.

But that would be running away from the life I've just built here. After all, I ran to here from someplace else. To this place that is, ultimately, an ocean too. If I think of it that way, imagination takes over and a vision, so clear it catches my breath, washes through my mind. Time slips and tumbles; it is millions of years ago, and today. All of human history fades, and the sky wheels backward. Here on my inland couch, in my living room which sits on a limestone shelf studded with the fossils of sea creatures, I can close my eyes and feel the waters rise around me. My skin welcomes the cool, clear sea that fills my house, sends me floating toward the ceiling which rises and sets me free, and I am swimming among prehistoric fish. Finning up toward the surface, my clothes disappearing, all the cars and buildings floating away like so many bubbles, I reach the night air and overhead the stars are out by the billions.

It is like my eyes are open for the first time. The stars have stories to tell, not unlike the patterns of a faded carpet I saw, long ago, in the middle of a journey from island to mid-continent. This time I am paying attention. This time I am awake. This time I will bring back their stories when I return, in the morning, to dry land.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Little Bird and thank you for reading. It is good to know there are people out there who still read. <3


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