“We are an ocean
behind our eyes
But never will we know
the tide schedule”*
In the Ocean Gallery the people were gathered in clusters and individuals reading the empty labels beneath the empty frames. Ocean backwash. Soft late afternoon light and the silvery foam. Beyond the horizon, in the distance a serene music flowed up like a scent of nostalgia in the breeze. What paintings are those? Whose eyes once looking at things now long gone? It was the kind of afternoon Ray always liked. One with endless walks along the beach. A sense of fluidity he could not find anywhere else in the colony. What was it with him and the Gray Shadows? He was not a settler, nor was he a surveyor. Everything here bespoke of a time he knew he will never get to see.
“Eyes from beyond to walk in beauty
of endless wake along the sea”
Ray suddendly remembered. He remembered the first time he arrived at the Gray Shadows. It was the day after the storm that took away the Portrait Gallery. All those faces washed away by the sea and with them the pain of separation. The Elders called for a special gathering. They showed the settlers the new altered world and alluded to the sorrow shared by each generation. Bodies of water had created new realities and opened the doors to a new sense of space and time.
“ And all that quest for light and dust
will come at last with eyes wide shut”
In the long and faceless gallery, a windowpane slammed shut in the wind. The shore was now almost empty. A group of friends wandered idly, whispering names that passed slowly among them. It was like a recollection they did not know they had. Someone from afar uttered a strange word. The others became speechless and stood, bewildered. An evening chill moved through the group as they were trying to move forward. Fönster. Fönster. Fönster*. The voice said the word one last time and listened to the few ones who started echoing it. And suddenly, there were no more walls or frames or windows. No apartness from either side of the ocean. Everything for a brief moment just fell into place. The wind blew again, down the shore. Ocean up-rush. Eyes wide shut.
* Poem by Jean-Claude Tardiff, in "Nous, la multitude", Ed. Le Temps des Cerises, 2011
* Window, in Swedish
"Untitled, 1990", courtesy of Jerry Uelsmann to whom I here warmly express my gratitude for letting me use his artwork