Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Skindiving in Tokyo Bay


Photo by Natalie Kelsey (deviantart.com)
The sea wall shoots straight down
Beyond the threshold of the eyes
Beneath the inky evanescence above
And the silky nothingness below
That centrifuge where the mind stops minding
And the extremities embrace the moonless chill
And in the unblinking undertow
Yamashita’s gold glistens, then vanishes
Yet another bioluminescent blur
Beyond the precipice of the abyssal plain
Where spider crabs bide their time
And searchlights dissolve like sugar photophores

The curve of your back
Your pearldiver skin
Freezeframes in front of me as I fumble
Dusktreading and night terrorfoaming
Over angry tectonic ridges, rusted warships
And the barnacled skeletons of young men pressed into death
By imperial dreams and decrees
And yet still you urge me forward through the cross current
Beckoning with a supple serenity to surrender
To the will of the waves and the boundaries of reason
When one climactic zone transitions to another
Do we change our name or simply inch forward as we are

Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
それ . . . あれ

Why don’t you turn around to face me
As I flail about amidst the black surge
Edo-wan at dusk is lonely beneath the skin
At odds with the detritus below and the neon crescent wrench
That grasps it tight at night
When the denizens of the depths recoil from reach
Why don’t you relight, ignite, send a pulse, a flair
At least make clear
That your crystal tips and grey-eyed equanimity
Were no deep-sea deceit, midwater mindfuck mirage
Minding your own business on the seabed is no trouble at all
When you were there all along and doing it anyway

Skindiving in Tokyo Bay
Past the shored-up satiety of Odaiba
Past the rusted-through remnants of the showy and the Showa
Past the echo-bait of subterranean human mazecraft
Past where the plateau pauses, then drops into the deep beyond
That place where the sawn edges of the Pacific parted ways
Leaving only memories of electric Taisho and the swordsharpeners of the Shitamachi
Blades brandished to keep the merchants at bay
Skindiving through the black machinery of now
Moorings loosened and discarded
Caution fed to the crabs, eyeless in the cold abyss
Reaching out to your lips with ease and understated grace

Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
それ . . . あれ

Shreds of red sky refract through the surface zone
Twilight ignites with new dreams and tender memories
Sexy exits, sleek décolage
Runway lights through the depths signalling a bridge beckoning to the abyssal plain below
Beyond the Minamibōsō boundary and into the open ocean
Where no one will dare follow
Where drunken tengu sharks swim sentinel
Round the rusted hulls of prison ships and drowned memories
That place where chemosynthesis keeps me warm
Where all our junctions jut out to face the spectral surface
The weight of four million square feet of sensory overload
Rolls my eyes back as my back imitates the nautilus, twirling and fading into you

And through the midwater zone
Curviline contours shade in and out of sight
Beyond the convection of currents into the discrete vocabulary of night
Ribbons, cloaks and shields tumble to the depths
As my senses lose all defences
And sea and sky turn black and fiery phosphorescent
I’ve seen you here in the sightless jagged caverns of the hadal zone
Shimmering self, alive as angry weight attacks my eardrums
Sparks flying upwards, depth charges blowing holes through my sense of space and self-imagination
No choice at all but to follow the pinpricks of light and crawling cloudbursts of belief
Maps of the universe splashed across the void
In violent disarray

Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
それ . . . あれ

The depths breathe and churn
Viperfish stir from their sleep
Shipmarks dissipate in distant darkness
We venture on inch by endless inch
Your tenderness and spark my only beacons
Your sonar my only sight
Nothing left but to face the light
And dive deep through rifts and currents
Ocean sinew unconstrained by mind or pressure
And then the tsubo markers of the ocean floor open outwards
With soft landings in sheets of silt ensured
Alone together enveloped in empty space

Freezeframe, endgame, freeze still, stay the same
There’s no pain in paralysis
Grasping hold of the moment and never letting go
Even as the silt and sediment scratch the membrane, erode the nerve endings
Hollow reeds bending and snapping
Broken on our piece of seabed
All my fibres, all your curves, connected and alive
Safely sheltered from the angry currents above
Beyond the ridges and rift valleys that tear at our senses
Leaving only echoes of their teeth-grinding tension
Growing softer and more distant
As we settle in for the long night

Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
Shore . . . no shore
Sure . . . unsure
それ . . . あれ
あれ
あれ
あれ


This poem was written for the Mile Zero Dance's show Without Borders - and specifically for a dance-spoken word collaboration with the amazing dancer/choreographer/human being Jen Mesch. It was performed with Jen at dc3 Art Projects in Edmonton on February 20 and 21, 2015.

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