Not long ago, I was at the beach, balanced on a perch of rocks and seaweed. It was just at that compassionate part of the morning when the marine layer decides to relax its grip on the coast and recede back to its home in the salty sky.
I was watching the surfers who were facing the horizon, waiting for wind and energy to knit together and blanket the water with a line of rideable waves. I was watching the birds that had come to visit me: to keep me company – for it was a dreary, long watch – to congratulate me on my patience or to investigate the rocks and pools for a late breakfast. An egret standing in the blue shadows practically disappeared against its marine background. It stood like an aquatic ghost, evaporating into the pellucid air and water whenever it stood still.
A group of turnstones ran chattering and scattering with each incoming wave – perhaps discussing the wisdom of choosing the beach as a hunting ground. Seagulls, their wings a mass of bone and muscle fine-tuned to navigate the air, sacrificed their nobility once they became earthbound.
Some yards away, a wedding party had assembled on the field of shells and rocks. They were too far away for me to discern bride and groom; the group was only a gathering of varied textures, heights and depths. But one thing became clear – a crystal thread spinning through the air, trembling as the muscular breezes flexed and turned. It was a woman’s voice. She was singing; the sound creating a beautiful, invisible shape.
But as the lady – the source – was invisible to me, it seemed as if her music could be emerging from anywhere; a living thing that had decided to come out of hiding. It seemed to have risen out of the ocean, echoing from the entrances of iridescent grottos and the mouths of sirens wreathed about submerged temples. It traveled across the sky, riding on the backs of birds, tumbling off their shoulders to glisten in the foam before evaporating in the salt and the breath of fishes.
The experience was ethereal – not of this world. Yet it was earthly, too: mingling with air, water, animals, the rocky expanse of the shoreline. It enveloped all senses, this music that was complete, yet unknown. And I was able to feel it melt into my skin and sparkle in my hair, before it finally disappeared altogether.