How Hug a Stone by Daphne Marlatt has towards the middle of this book part travelogue and part commemoration a piece that is marked by contrasting one day scurrying to avoid the incoming tide and a final day of ashes sprinkled at sea. It is called “close to the edge”.
At one point in the midst of crisis we inhabit the conscience of a mother of two
don’t go now we won’t get back & i could hear it in her,
panic, pan-ic (terror of the wild), shouldn’t have brought you
here. all three, & the wind rising — risk. to meet it.
The children and the mother of course make it to safety or else there would not be this writing to read. They are panting exhilarated. “we did it. / taking us closer to the edge, over & over.” And the edge is now a different one just as tinged with mortality…
we did in the end, as she asked, on a different sea-coast off
a different rock, lean from the boat to scatter bits of porous
bone, fine ash. words were not enough. & the sea took her.
I have always admired Marlatt’s use of ampersands; they jut out on her page like waves. And here they cannot hold what is breaking apart. & yet they do over & over.
And so for day 1093