A Lustrous Temptation

Beneath the shore’s salty crust, under its acres of crushed shell and beaten rock, there are the remains of a building.  Beyond the masses of kelp that spread across the beach like bodies – reeking of life and iodine – there are the fossils of a forgotten design:  a distant, watery symbolism. Below the beached relics of destroyed breakwaters, architecture born of aquatic mystery rippled and sprawled.

Columns that undulated with nacre glistened in their burial-place. There were arches made from the curving bones of fishes.  Their tiny, delicate threads were evocative of lives spent weaving through the currents.  Scallops – their blue eyes closed long ago – decorated windows and doors.    When the building was alive, they would bob and bow like joyous fans:  welcoming any visitors who had made the pilgrimage there.

The walls were covered with scales – thin, painted currency of the ocean.  Tiles the colors of foam and tide created an aquatic mosaic that bounded across the now submerged barriers like ships.  Pearl and lavender, turquoise and jade, bronze and indigo – the hidden rooms had been built in the ocean’s moon-ridden image.


But during the course of forgotten years, the earth had shrugged and shifted; as unwilling to keep still as any child.   The building sunk beneath the collapsing groundwork; its pelagic architecture suffocated by the unyielding geography.  It descended beyond the blue fog and the breath of the fishes.  It fell until it was beyond the reach of the marine air, thick with the cries of birds that embroidered its fabric with tales of hunting and horizons.

Hidden under the rubble, it was a broken and cryptic secret.  Errant footsteps scuffed its enameled ceiling, the painted witness to a forgotten court.  In places the ancient color bloomed out of the ground like shattered flowers.  A reward for imaginations that wander, a glint that beckons from the corner of the eye, it preserves the lustrous temptation of a world that exists, though it is hidden.



7 responses to “A Lustrous Temptation

  1. aubrey: stumbling over a lost palace, a lost civilization…the dream has haunted poets forever…how about adding on a lost library…stone tablets? a prince’s ransom in fragile papyri carefully stored in waterproof boxes? the most beautiful love poem ever written? RT

  2. Every time I read something you’ve written, I wish I could hear it read out loud. The combination and flow of words just beg for a rich voice.

  3. The writing’s lovely, but that last photo is so evocative. It reminds me of the view of the sky at Thunderball Cave in Staniel Cay. It’s the first and only cave I’ve ever dived, but it was amazing to look up from the darkness and see that exquisite patch of blue and light – almost exactly the same color as you’ve pictured here.

  4. A reward for imaginations that wander indeed. Had to switch off some music I had playing in the background to read this through again without any distraction. Finding and entering a colour portal to the oceanic, aquatic realms existing underneath the dirt. Wonderful

  5. I was thinking the same thing as Lisa, how wonderful it would be to hear your words read aloud, Aubrey. What an enchanting journey you have brought us on – imaginations that wander do lead us to many delightful dwellings.

  6. Oh to find a lost place as beautiful as you describe Aubrey.

  7. Stunning piece of sensual archaeology, a feast from the watery world, unearthing “the fossils of a forgotten design.” Your words here captivate me, Aubrey, the swell and flow like the incessant, musical sea.

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