Saturday, September 26, 2009
From the first time I came down into the little carpeted viewing cave to watch them, years ago on my honeymoon in Galveston, sitting in the dimness looking up into the lower section of the seal tank in Moody Gardens and watching the seals twisting in the water act upon my imagination like a gas jet upon a hot air balloon. Heaviness spreads open in a gasp and grace replaces all the foot-pounds of atmosphere standing on my skin.
To see the seals is to remember a time when focus reached outward. Water does more than forgive a shape that land makes awkward, it blesses it with agile speed. The seals spinning and diving remind me of summers going from pool to pool with a desire to be in the middle of the water so that I could imagine myself once more free of each anchor. Leaning against the glass, I let the anchors rest and watch the seals flash by. Do we seem ghosts to the seals? Movement somehow beyond the reflections of themselves? Do they feel the heat of the bodies standing just on the other side of the glass or are we so well masked that we are invisible?
I've set myself a task as a writer, one that displaces the game of literary conformity. This task is to find a way to perform the seals' transformation in prose, to give a reader the chance to be just such an agile component of my language pool that they flash and dive with the characters. This is what I hope for in a good story and what I would strive for (if I could separate the ego-gratification of status or money from my drives) in terms of success. Because they give me a better goal than I would have come up with on my own, the seals get this entry in the blog.