“Coelacanth, yes, God!
Although I had come prepared,
that first sight hit me like a white-hot blast.
It made me feel shaky and queer, my body tingled.
I stood if stricken to stone.
Yes, there was not a shadow of doubt:
scale by scale,
bone by bone,
fin by fin,
it was a true coelacanth.”
-J. L. B. Smith, Ichthyologist, on identifying the specimen of Coelacanth the first time in human history
It’s not clear whether J. L. B. Smith had an interest in literature and poetry, but this account is quiet poetic to me, in a sense that the sound of the words and the structure of the sentences captured the excitement in a very rich and delightful way. I’ll take it as a poem.
*Rhodes University ichthyologist Professor JLB Smith with a coelacanth in 1953.
“To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free –“
Whispering into my wicked bones, like fairy slips through lichen and moss.
Lie on the floor awaiting to be taken,
I smiled as if this corps would be still for ever.
How free it is, I know exactly.
Yet I miss the excitement of the spring earth,
That chill of a summer refrigerator,
Calling me is the voice of a country singer.
Now that I think,
Even the odor from the back alley of Parc Avenue is somehow familiar. Not only that,
I wonder what it feels like when my son pees on my arm,
How painful it would be, to see my daughter falling on the ground,
How wonderful it is, to see an enfant growing into an adult.
And I want especially,
To hear you read Tulips to me,
So much joy awaiting,
So many miracles pounding.
That I have to wake up, into this dreamy reality.
“So much working, reading, thinking, living to do! A lifetime is not long enough.”
– Sylvia Plath, the Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
She committed suicide at the age of 30.
I once quoted Virginia Satir for her sorrowful reminder on the subject of creation and regret; “I’ve often wondered how many dreams, and how many possibilities, have died with their owner without expression.” She said.
It makes me think of the meaning that dance has to me.
That in a sense, all my dances end with a desolate notion as it denotes the closing of a series of actions, a sequence of intentions, and perhaps a collection of my obscure emotions. It ceased to exist as I anchored myself into that still state. They were born and I am often time the only witness of the death of the expression.
That I gave birth to those dreams and possibilities yet they were born to be dead. Without being noticed, if I extend the metaphor by Virginia Satir, I became the only griever of the vanished existence.
But they existed.
As I would.