Fin in a Waste of Waters

"These moments of escape are not to be despised. They come too seldom....Leaning over this parapet I see far out a waste of water. A fin turns....I note under 'F.,' therefore, 'Fin in a waste of waters.' I, who am perpetually making notes in the margin of my mind for some final statement, make this mark, waiting for some winter's evening." (from Woolf's THE WAVES)

22 August 2007


First, apologies for my long absence - it's the dissertation (UK)/thesis (US) grind, so I've been exhausting all of my creative energy on this paper, and have been going to sleep too dry to dream, it seems.

Until last night, when I dreamt I was cleansed. Of what, I'm not sure, but I know that I needed it. In the dream, I wandered I don't know where, until I found myself unknowingly inside of one particular building, directionless yet somehow knowing I had meant to be there. I don't think it was a church - if so, the sanctuary was hidden deep in its body - but it had the feeling of a church: all of the rooms had the feeling of not being a center in themselves but of centering instead around some much more important heart. I was met by an old-ish woman, a starched grey dress that buttoned stiffly over full stout breasts; thick, soft gray hair pulled into a knot at the back of her head; glasses; a gentle touch and discerning brown eyes that yet did not probe. She called me "dear." A nurse or an angel? - I didn't know. But a healer. She took me by one arm - light fingertips on my elbow - to a room where I could put down my bags. Then to another, grey like her, but darker. The only light from a high window, white sunlight. Below it, a deep stone & steel basin. A bath. She bid me undress. With no need for shame, but with exhausted arms and back, I removed piece by slow piece & put them in a heap, where, in the light of the window, they seemed to skulk like a small dirty animal - and I pitied them. I climbed into the bath & sat on one of its stone steps. She sat next to me with a nozzle in her hand, waiting patiently for the water; I asked, my limbs already trembling with chill: "Will it be cold?" She smiled down on me, "No, dear." And then, not with a gurgle or splash, the water came, a vital clear silent stream that she washed over my shoulders, my arms and my back; down my legs; and finally, over my head. She adjusted my head away from her, so that the right side (the bruised and bumped; the once-poisonous side) tilted up towards her. The water ran down it, soaking my hair and tingling on my skull; and she ran her hand again and again over that side, the third of the three most-sincere, most-intense & intensely-needed moments of touch I have had there (the first, in my fiction; the second, a friend, drunk). That someone would love that ugly, scary place. Then she shut the tap off, and took my hand, helping me up the slippery stone steps, water rushing, coursing in one clear cataract from my hair down my back down my buttocks down my calves. She gave me a towel, a white shift to wear. My skin was alive with cold, almost painfully alive to the rough-cotton feel of this short shapeless dress. She took me to another room, also grey, but lit with florescent lights, empty (though I implicitly felt the presence of other women in that building) but for a few brown couches whose rough brown covers scratched the backs of my legs when I sat on them. There, I would fast for the remainder of the day. There, she left me. And I felt my body clean, alive.

(Ironic, because I now go to make a cup of coffee to get going on the diss this morning after what was initially a perfect, beautiful, whole night, into which Rasheed threw a stone as into a pool...)


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