To Love a Sparrow
Published by Shaun Vis at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Shaun Vis
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Dedicated to my first love, my Ocean.
To Love a Sparrow
Here I sit, surrounded by the reeds by the sea; a soft breeze rustles and guides her wings. I’m not seated here out of the comfort of my Ocean, just to feel the plants of the land inside my toes and at my fingertips. I’m here to watch her duck and dive and fly above me and the reeds, the land and the sea. I’ve never noticed a sparrow before, but she mesmerizes me, like a dove from the heavens. Oh, to hear her sing her song of the sky was like swimming with the current on my back, carrying me, making me feel infinite. She doesn’t notice me though; I’m just sitting quietly while she soars so wonderfully around. She’s too busy to look down, and too content to care for what lays on the ground. Her life lies in the skies, why would she who is blessed with wings worry about me? I wish I could fly with her, so she would notice me. Maybe then she would let me in to her busy life and joyful skies. The breeze picks up and I feel a firm gust lash my face, she doesn’t flinch, she pulls down her left wing and guides herself below the currents of the sky. She’s so close now, maybe she’s looking for something to eat, or something to re-enforce her nest. Her nest must be a work of beauty just like her; she would have made a nest better than any I have seen before. Not that I have seen many nests in the sea, but I notice the hawks that borrow the shrubs and broken branches. They weren’t beautiful though; there was no way they could build anything as delicate and stunning and remarkable as she. But as I sit here, I realize neither could I. I couldn’t make a nest for her no matter how much I wanted to. It wasn’t my place, I belonged to the Ocean not the sky. She lands now, metres from me, still too busy to notice her admirer gaze at her with love in his eyes and hope in his heart. Still she pecks and flutters across the scrub, treating me as if I were a stone in her way, doing nothing but hiding potential branches and shrubs for her nest. I realise that even if I could fly with her, she would not swim with me. So I slink back to the sea, out of the reeds and across the sand to the salty embrace of my Ocean, to my Ocean I promise my heart, forever and always, she is my home.
Ah my Ocean, so beautiful and full of wonderful things. The sounds I can hear below wash out the noise of the land and the song of the sky. It is the songs of the whales that truly captivate my ears. They move so slow and gracefully with the weight of a mountain behind them. Their songs the same; so much lays behind the hum of a whale. I can hear them sing from miles away and feel them part the sea. I wonder if they know their own presence, they talk and communicate and I hear beautiful hymns and carols. I see the raw power of the sea. Do they know the place they hold in my heart? If I could sing like they, I wouldn’t settle for quiet words either. I would push my lungs to show the strength they possess as a means of hello. I would say goodbye with the gracious blow of my tail on the surface of the sea. Never will I meet another friend like the whale, inspiring so much wonder and creating so much awe. I swim so softly now past his giant fin and under his enormous tail. I let him leave, for I know I’ll see him again, the sea echoing his song forever.
Through the Barrel
I might swim to the surface again. See what I can find along the shore of my Ocean. Sometimes people swim amongst the shallows and sometimes dolphins join them. The whales rarely come this close, and once the sharks become curious people usually leave. My other friends, the fish and octopus and squid and crabs, come to the shallows too. Today I want to see someone new. I’ll sway with the waves and ride them to the shallows but I shall not leave. If I can’t fly with sparrows I’ll swim in barrels. A room of green all to myself. Watching the wave fall over itself as I glide along inside. I’m focused now, just behind the break, waiting for that perfect wave and that perfect moment. If a wave is just right, you can see the shapes on the shore shift. Through the barrel they become the watchers and the watched, they experience the beauty of my Ocean with me. Whether it is a man or a rock, through the barrel we share a connection where the water meets the land. Through the curl of a wave as it crashes in the shallows, and through that wave, through it’s barrel, we all share a moment. I can feel it now. I can feel the sea stirring around me, waiting to perform its spectacular show to the shore. I swim, moving forward with the sea towards the sand. My Ocean pulls me now, plays with my weight as I drop down the face of its unbroken wave. In a rush I feel the lip curl, making its way above and surrounding me. This is it. This is the moment I crave. Falling and flying with my Ocean, her glass wave engulfing me as I look through it. Through to the shore, to the spectators on the sand. I see men and birds and crabs and trees and rocks and hills. I see them all through the barrel and through the barrel they all see me. For this very moment we’re all a part of the show, we can all feel it, the beauty of the sea and the land, with the applause of a wave.
Back Down South
Will my sparrow follow me along the coast? Back down south where the water is colder and clearer, where the sand is softer and the barrels are bigger? I wonder if she’d even care to see the waves roll in and the sea stir? I suppose the sky is the same wherever you fly. Clouds come and go for her, changing where she flies without her moving a mile. I don’t think she understands my Ocean, how she can be so calm and so roaring, so clear from below and clouded from above. If she would swim with me she’d see the sea the way I see. Maybe if I flew with her I’d see much more. Like the sea, my head is clearer back down south, I think I’ll go there now. I’m following the shore as I swim with my Ocean; I love to swim with her, she carries me when I tire, like I have tired now. I let my limbs go limp and my lungs fill with salted water. She won’t let me drown; she’ll lift me to the surface when I falter. I prefer to drink the sea than breathe the air. It’s clearing me out as I drift along in the arms of my Ocean, listening to the echo of the whale song and sounds of the sea. I let her take me to the surface so I can see the forest and fill my lungs. The colours here are nicer, greens and browns, not greys. I can see birds, flying in and out of the thick trunks, no sparrows. No, these birds are bigger, louder, not nearly as beautiful and elegant as the sparrow of my heart. She would never squawk and squeal, only sing as she soars, smoother and softer than the wings down here. But she wouldn’t belong here; this is no place for sparrows by the sea. This is where I swim with my Ocean, back down south.
A Broken Promise, A Broken Heart (Salt in the Wound)
Here on the surface, drifting in the sea. My Ocean is pushing and pulling me, I sway and ripple where the sky meets the sea. I am the heart of my Ocean and she is the heart of me. I would dry up should I leave her for longer than I need, she would weep and roar if I left her for the shore. She carries me when I cannot swim, and breathes the air in my lungs, if I ever start to drown. I am her burden now, a burden she loves nonetheless. Yet I don’t know if I could ever fly, for I fear I might dry up if I try. My Ocean warned me that I might, so I never tried to leave her. I’ve never wanted to. To love a sparrow. It is a dangerous thing. I have a taste for the skies. I long to know if I could ever fly with her, above the sea, above the land. I love my Ocean, but I need to try, I need to know how far I could reach, if ever desire to try. I can see the birds fly by the shore. There is one bird, smaller, could it be her? I swim from the arms of the Ocean and look closely at the shore, surely not. She wouldn’t fly all this way down south for me? I didn’t think she noticed me, when I sat and watched her work. Maybe she saw and followed the shore to where the forest meets the sea. I can feel my Ocean pull at me and tug my ankles back, so I softly kick them free and swim. Then I wade until I walk on the shore. My Ocean roars, waves crashing down behind. No longer sweet and smooth barrels, but crashing on the sands. I start to run to where I saw her glide through the forest. I break through the layers of scrub, but I see nothing, I hear the squawks of crows and birds but no sweet songs of sparrows. My legs are cut and broken, not used to running on land. They sting; I feel their weight upon me. No longer can I swim through my Ocean. The sea has dried upon me, the salt that once cleansed me, has dried within my wounds. In the distance I hear the crash of waves that long to bring me home, but my Ocean can’t reach me here.
I broke my promise; I broke her heart, all for a sparrow, who has no love for me.
About the Author
Shaun Vis was born in Bunbury in 1996. Currently he lives in Perth, Western Australia, and is studying a Bachelor of Arts in English and History at Edith Cowan University. Shaun was inspired to write this collection of short stories from his upbringing in the coastal town of Australind. The stories blend his love for the ocean and the romantic relationships he has experienced in his life. To Love a Sparrow is Shaun’s debut short story collection.