“A maiden once gifted with voice…” (Pausanias)


What do you think of when you imagine the future? The time surely coming, when we can gather again, with loved ones, to eat together, and talk, without fear? What do you imagine?

On a bathroom shelf, a barnacle, with a holdfast of kelp. When I gathered it on one of the long beaches in Pacific Rim several years ago, I saw it as a sibyl. An open mouth (on the other side, you can see the openings of two barnacles), a mediator of liminal space, voicing the future. On that day, walking on miles of sand with my husband and daughter, the future was unknown but somehow safe. We were healthy, we were together, in a place where we’d once been with extended family members spreading the ashes of my parents. John and I had been coming to this part of the west coast for decades, together, and long before we met. I came alone and slept on the sand in my old down sleeping bag in maybe 1973 and woke to deer prints around me. I remember taking off all my clothes (I was 18) and tying strands of seaweed to my ankles, beaded with tiny shells. John came with an early girlfriend who was a surfer (from Santa Barbara) and they stayed on the beach in their Volkswagen van for a few days so that Dulcie could compete in a surfer event. Every year or two we’ve returned. Our children love it. And on the phone earlier this evening, Angelica hoped that we could all get together again there, maybe in the summer, but next year for sure. I think of us all, together and in smaller groups, walking, swimming, body-surfing, and sleeping to the sound of waves, and tonight I hope to dream of this. Not like last night when I dreamed of a house-fire and people screaming.

What I imagine is asking the barnacle shell on the cedar shelf in the bathroom to give me good news. The Cumaean Sibyl fended off Apollo who wanted to sleep with her (of course) by asking to live (in exchange for her virginity) for the number of years represented by the handful of sand she held. When I picked up my Cox Bay sibyl, a few grains of sand fell onto the shelf. Are those years or promises or both?

17 thoughts on ““A maiden once gifted with voice…” (Pausanias)”

  1. What a beautiful encouraging thought to end with, Theresa, and thank you for conjuring Long Beach. I needed that vast wild space this morning.

  2. In 1975 I camped on Chesterman with some hippy friends. I’d just come from Toronto, so it was incredible to be on that endless, glorious beach. I’ve been back a few times since, always, like you, in awe.

    1. Those beaches are still much the same. I think how the communities have grown but there are still remnants of the old days. The Coop, for example, and the Common Loaf. I look forward to a few days there once travel is possible again.

  3. OH this takes me back, believe it or not, to another time and place — my intriguing teen years on the prairie. When thoughts of the ocean were suppressed and muddled, although very much alive. It’s always a treat to come to your space on the web.

      1. Your posts are wonderful. 🙂 Follow me if u want also. i am new to wordpress.

      2. i am glad, tell ur friends about my blog, i will want mor follows . other people have like 200 i have 4….not trying to be selfish.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s