by Laura Parker Roerden
As a child, I always imagined the holy ghost as the pattern of frost
on a window-pane when a cold wind blew in. I’d stare for hours;
hunting, but never finding, a frond or star that repeated.
As a teen, the frost turned to a fog that rolled in one day fishing on a boat with
my brother on Narragansett Bay. We were lost, but no one cared. The lines
were bending with unseen treasure and we were writing our names across
a shiny moon of glass, as if on skates. I never saw my brother happier,
though we had no idea where shore was and I was seasick and leaning on a gunwale to vomit like a too-small fish. You throw those back. The holy ghost was the one
we kept. Then as a young woman, I learned to swim underwater to depths of over a hundred feet on a ledge off a tropical island that plummeted to the continental shelf, where Davey Jones’ locker held secrets. I found a green turtle sleeping on a shelf.
He was wearing a crown of light that pulled like a dagger all the way from the glass ceiling above. The turtle awoke and I swear smiled at me. But then left. The wake of water left behind was a shade of dark indigo not of this earth. The bubbles
that floated like bells from my quickened breathing was a different reason to rise in the morning. I now understood the holy ghost is unlike a father or Jesus; but the Big Girl, who understands fecundity is found at depth. Then I became a mother,
who shed a mother and a father and a brother as if they were coins in exchange for three babies like some ancient trade at the bank. The Holy Ghost was the last breath I ever saw my mother take; and the first from each of my sons. I don’t know where
I’ll find the Holy Ghost moving forward, but I know this. The trees that fell
in the latest storm are smoldering in the swamp. And surely mold and fungi will lift
like steam on their decomposing bodies lain to rest in new sunlight.
Laura Parker Roerden is the founding director of Ocean Matters and the former managing editor of Educators for Social Responsibility and New Designs for Youth Development. She serves on the boards of Women Working for Oceans (W20) and Earth, Ltd.
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© Laura Parker Roerden, 2018. All rights reserved.