Landscape yields many expressions of yearning and desire to the photographer, coastlines especially. I often bring my students here for that very reason. At the coast you gain the added sense of endless departure, of finite nature ebbing away, moment by moment, and returning to the infinite. There’s a sense of reluctance in that, which generates a classic poignancy. There’s also an unfathomable desire to go. The tension between those two aspects adds a near sensual quality, if I can call it that, to the images we capture here.
How many sailors set out from this bay in rickety ships made of worm-eaten timber, generation after generation? Were they forced from this land by poverty and famine, or drawn to the horizon by the promise of gold and adventure? How many were pirates who scratched a living by slitting throats? And how many of those lusty young bodies washed back on to this beach, with their lips and eyes eaten by fish, to be discovered by their wives or fiancées in the sand, scarcely recognisable any more, though the women clasped the cold bodies to their wet bosom as they wept? Many, no doubt.
The sea cleanses the stains of many an unclean life that perhaps never deserved to be lived. The sea is like the landscape’s second chance, of sorts. While the land, the soil and the rock itself, well, in the end it forgives and accepts everyone, no matter how wrong they were. Those great spikes of rock across the bay there, carved out from the cliff by the ferocious spray and wind and thrust up at the sky like they’re wanting to make love, they must be impregnated with bodies by now, the innocent and the damned all the same.
I love it here, the black water roaring in the bay and the seclusion. That’s why I bring my students along, to develop their sense of psycho-geography as best they can and learn how to frame a scene. It’s soothing for me here, deeply soothing. It always has been. Even after my wife abandoned me and I was, well, for want of a better word, a mess, even then I was soothed by this place. I practically haunted it here, to try to regain my equilibrium. And I did in the end. But for a while… oh, if I’d traced my wife in those days I expect she might have been embedded alongside all those other lusty young bodies, deep in the unsearchable cliffs, never to be found.
Lying in state, she’d signal to the sightseers, invisibly. Though I expect I’d still catch glimpses of her from time to time, the luscious curves her body made, those buttocks and hips, peeping at me from the crags and tantalising as ever. Then I’d revel in it, secretly, while the cameras click away and I’m stood here and staring at the rocks, all rigid.
This piece of flash fiction was written in response to Photo Challenge #37 – “Bluff” at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, where all stories in the link-up were prompted by the image at the top of this post, copyright Yoshiyuki Iwase.