The Coast Polished pebbles pleat the earth: stream-shaped skin the color of all unknowns shimmering under a sky so grey it nearly grumbles. Water-chiseled holes make telescopes for blind eyes seeking—volcanic red that bleeds black deeper than any human pigmentation. The tide’s tongue slurps and shoves shells into waves of ivory oyster pearls, relics of everything too small and too big to touch. On the cusp between the waters that birthed us and the ground we are sinking with, the earth stings and salt flakes paint the white sky.
The Lighthouse Years ago, we walked along the rocky- toothed edge of the bare New England shore, wind in our faces, our feet navigating precariously uphill. We watched each other in the dark, as friends do, catching each slip with our gloved hands, one of us always on solid ground. I am alone this time, your footsteps covered with sand, high waters, waves cresting like flames in the wind, a winter storm on the angry Atlantic, coastline of shivering sand and rocks and greyed grass. Dark already this afternoon, the path you first uncovered for me winds between empty summer homes, abandoned cliffs dropping into the ocean’s turbulence. I walk beyond dusk—farther than we went, farther still than you have ever been— and a light pierces the sky, the first star rising: a luminous fist, emerging out of wooden beams, its signal flickering and then still. Closer, the house seems to be crumbling: paint peels from rotten wood falling to the frozen earth, long deserted by the once constant crossings of ships from distant continents. And yet, it goes on, relentlessly guiding, one stellar burst across black.
Mbira for Dingiswayo Spring and summer unfolded at the roots of this tree, where we sat and played through the nimble notes of this instrument that has made you old. The air was still cold in the city where we unfolded across this instrument— sculpted of tamed tree branches and metal notes— that has played me free. Ancestors spoke through the played voices of our searching souls, old and raspy in the rippling notes of the earth’s song, unfolding in our hands, through the tree, now amplifying this instrument that speaks a language of instruments in tones that tremble as they play, entangle us, the leaves, the tree, a dance of daylight even older than the oldest bough, its unfolding laughter brimming with the notes that flickered across our chests, notes erupting in the bones of this instrument that made you, wood shavings unfolding on a dirt floor as you played the metal keys out of their old rust, into a polish, bright as the tree in morning’s emergence. This tree holds us, the beat in every note: we will together grow old in its song, through this instrument that has taught me again how to play, how to let light and life unfold. Wrapped in cloth and fifteen years old, an ocean away, our instrument plays on, filling every season of unfolding.
Genevieve Creedon is a scholar, poet, and essayist. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast MFA Program and her PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan. Her writing across genres focuses on the wonders and mysteries of earthly life. She grew up on the shores of the Long Island Sound and has lived in Connecticut, New York, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, and most recently, Indiana, and strives to explore the worlds around her with her canine and human companions.