On the eve of my seventieth birthday, I dreamed I was a woman in a hooded purple velvet coat.
She-Me, standing on the jagged, angular, geometric rocks at the edge of the surging, curling sea.
It was evening, and the wind blew hard as it does when the moon is full and high and the heat of the day fades and the ozone-lavender lithium light rises off of the water and becomes the sky.
It was in the crepuscular hour. The time between the exhaustion of the waking day and the wonders of the unknown night. The hour when you could imagine yourself to be of one mind and also of another in unison. In a settled, common, unison. When yes and no are equal to the task of living and breathing and waking and sleeping and lifting and falling.
And the wind blew from the east and the wind blew from the west. And yet my coat was unruffled. It hung down from my shoulders to the toes of my shoes.
My black shoes which reflected the moonlight. The shoes I danced in as a girl. The shoes that I wore at my baptism in the faith and on the first day of school and on the day my mother died.
The shoes my father taught me to lace. The shoes so soft and snug and sturdy they filled my body with strength and soulfulness.
I held the moon in my hand and the waves curled under it. The waves of blue and white. The waves I felt I could walk away on. Walk to the moon on.
I was a girl-woman. I was a woman-girl. I was my mother’s-child. My child’s-mother. The slow admix of young and old. Of constancy and change in the moment. Of the years I had lived and the years I have not yet lived. The years before I was birthed and the years beyond the end.
My mother had worn a purple coat. The color of sadness and mourning set against the midnight black of her hair.
I stood at the edge of the sea. In the crepuscular light. In the coat my mother wore. In the coat my child will wear. In the moonlight in which my mother bathed and at which she wondered. The light that reveals and shadows, both. The softest light. The silent light.
I stood, a woman-mother-child, at the edge of the surging, curling, sea in the lavender air and entrusted myself to the mysteries I did not know, could not know, and the wonders I know I would never know.
And I stood with all of that. In the edge of the day and the night, and the dark and the light, and the light and the dark, in my hooded purple velvet coat that my mother had once worn before me.
Painting by Karen Maley. 2021.
Used with permission.
3 thoughts on “The Woman in Purple Velvet Coat at the Edge of the Surging Sea”
I love this piece for its striking imagery, poetic cadence and language, and mysticism. That image of the ozone lavender lithium rising from the sea to become the sky is brilliant. Bravo, Joe!
a prose poem — and a damn good one!