The Black Bird

I look at the pool and know it is an invitation, like this week. I made a last minute decision to do a memoir workshop with one of my favorite authors, Rebecca Walker. Gigantic palm trees rock back and forth gently over it’s sultry kidney shape and a mosaic of a blackbird, a crow beckons me from the bottom. I wasn’t fond of that pointy, meaty bird which seems to follow me everywhere, until I learned that they were a spirit guide to help develop the power of sight and transformation, to receive life’s magic.

I can’t remember the last time I actually let myself get in. There is something in me that longs too, that feels like I should ever time I see a beautiful body of water. Isn’t that what it’s there for? But I don’t want to risk the cold or endure the grey mist or weeds and rocks at the bottom and don’t get me started on sand.

Day one, I sit on the first step in the dark with my toes dangling and I let the edge of my dress get wet. I am completely alone and I like it. I’ve come to enjoy the night more and more and here I feel surrounded, like the water, fire and trees are wooing me.

Day two, I am determined. I suit up and wade in. The water is warm. It feels good, like having a bath but with more room. My body knows instantly how to float.  I put my head under and feel my hair fan out across my back. I watch drowned yellow bugs, termites maybe, get stuck in the ends. So I play dead for a moment, like a goldfish in solidarity. I push my arms and legs out wide to the side and arch my pelvis slightly. I am thrust right to the top, weightless, easy. I wonder if I look like one of those corpses on a television drama and if the footsteps I hear are somebody rushing over to dive in and save me.

So I swim again, trying to go as fast as I can in the tiny pool. I paddle kick my anger to one side. Push off and breast stroke my exhaustion back. The water doesn’t care about my limitations to receive but I notice that the more I let go, the more it supports me. I spin in circles. I twist my waist. I play. I let my fingers get pruny. I trace the ridges of the mosaic that make up the black bird with my feet. I marvel at my mobility, at how easy it is to enjoy my body, to forget about its shape, the wrinkles, the pockets of extra flesh I’ve used to keep myself hidden and I remember that conversation I had with Catherine, when I told her how tired I was, that I knew I could be happy wading in the shallow end, safe, as I could diving deep. I changed my mind.