Swimming into Alta Exsilii

(From The Guardian’s Journal)

All around this island is Alta Exsilii — at times covered with mist, others reflecting the rays of the sun in lucent ripples, or undulating beneath a restless moon. Infinite in all her tempests and wisdom, she swirls around us.

I have been drawn to these waters all my life. When I stare out at the sea, it washes clear all thoughts, all confusion. Even when I am far from her, during those quiet, predawn hours when I can feel my soul breathe — I can feel the currents beat within me, point and counterpoint. It is a secret language feathering into my ears. It is my bloodstream, bolstering my painful movements through this heavy air with the knowledge that the secret salt waters of my unconscious lap around my ankle, nourishing me with the sustenance every exile needs.

I often view them while walking down from my home of many names and none.

They guard the reef and every so often come up to bask in the lightning that brings both beauty and terror to this hidden world. These sirens with their seaweed-colored hair adorned with sea-shells that glint in the sunlight live in the horror stories and most erotic fantasies of fishermen. Their voice, they say is enough to draw you willingly towards your doom. But to me they are a part of the landscape, no less beautiful, no less deadly. And now I breathe in the soul-nourishing air of the beach, redolent with fishy and salty smells in that peculiar combination you can only find here. Anyone who loves the sea and has been too far away from it will know. That precise moment during your journey when the air carries the first whiff of it and you feel the tingle of excitement that tells you are almost there.

A cresting of the waves a few miles away attracts my attention. A grey hump emerges, then disappears back into the waves. A large tail will beat at the waves, causing a huge splash, before disappearing into Alta Exsilii.

It is now time.

Walking into the waves, I will wade till my feet cannot feel the ground, then I will dive – deep down. I feel satisfaction-profound and as intense as anticipation. My body will change as I develop fins, and gills. Slowly, I explore the world beneath the waters — the Kingdom that lies within Alta Exsilii .


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