Welcome to Bode Hall.

(bode hall)
I'm Skyler, aka "Bode of Bode Hall". This site is my occasional plaything, and right now it's also a place where I can make my writings available. Come in peace, talk to me if you feel the urge, and don't forget to floss.

June 28, 2005: Cleaned up the site a little, and added poems from 2003 to the Poems section.

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Relax, It's Only Me

It was our second summer at the beach house. There'd been just enough time for me to relax into the comfortable routine I'd laid down the previous year, but not quite so much that I was ready to quit noticing the waves and start paying attention to the boys just yet. So it must have been in the second half of June the day the angel washed up.

Loretta had woken up early, and spent the morning being her more than usually picky self, bossing the rest of us around and pretending this wasn't a vacation. Her crusade that day was sand. We'd no more than finished our respective breakfasts, when she tossed a broom into my hand and expressed her outrage that the beach should have come to visit us uninvited and camp out on our patio.

By the time I'd finished sweeping sand down through the cracks between the slats, she had a mop and bucket waiting. Growing up in Nebraska, I think Loretta had gotten the idea that salt water was somehow unnatural, and sweat stains on the patio were too much for her to deal with.

I must have cut quite a figure, out there with my steaming bucket swabbing down the deck in the late morning breeze. It was just starting to get warm enough for eyelids, and the strange part was that I didn't care what the other beach-dwellers would think. I'll admit, I was having fun. Splashing around and watching the waves of steam roll off of wet boards tickled me, and I started making up nursery rhymes about throwing fresh water after salt and humming under my breath while I worked.

(Years later, when I got in the habit of carrying soup over to the old diabetic beachcomber who'd lost his foot to gangrene from stubbornness and a frightened crab, he'd invent platitudes and chestnuts to keep me sitting for a few minutes. If the sea is our womb, he said once, then lakes must be our cradles and rivers our playpens. Anyone can return to the cradle, he mused, all it takes is a mental regression or a well- developed sense of whimsy, but after you're born to land the only thing the ocean will permit is that you fall in love with her.)
The spirit took me when I'd finished, and I swathed another coat of water onto the planks just so the steam could surround me for a little longer. I stood at the rail, holding the mop in one hand like a harpoon, and scanned the edge of the beach for invaders. We never get to know whether it's luck or fate, do we? No surprise that we've been haggling over that one for so long.

The moment I finished posing and looked up, no kidding, there was a flash of white and a piercing cry from the rocks off to the right. Something was flapping around down there; I'd heard stories about albatrosses but had never seen one, so I threw the mop down and ran out to it immediately, yelling for my sister to come quick.

My feet were already wet and ready for the sand; it took no time at all for me to reach the rocks. I saw a few snowy feathers drifting in between stones, but no bird for them to have come from. Curiosity cooled swiftly into fear for the poor creature as I searched, and as I heard my sister's voice coming from the direction of the house, I finally saw it.

Trying to yell and gesture at her to go back, don't look, stay away, and at the same time run over to where a recognizably human hand fluttered just under the water's surface, I tripped twice and almost put myself under as well. But my angry waving didn't help; Carolyn saw the arm almost immediately and wordlessly ran over to help me pull the body to shore.

I just can't describe how it felt to touch that arm. My feet and head went ZZUMM at the same time, and it felt like my whole senses were all being called to my hand for backup and were doomed unequal to the task of perceiving what I held. I knew I was walking backward, dragging the unearthly form onto the shingle and leaving definite footprints, but all the while I was convinced that it was pulling me into its watery grave for company.

It wasn't until I'd stopped that I noticed the hand was clutching my arm.

I choked in a breath for screaming, when the hum of my senses reversed and I was filled with the pulse of BE NOT AFRAID my own heart remembering to beat. My eyes followed the hand out to its shoulder, then up past the hood of tiny feathers that covered the angel's neck to its face. Our eyes HEAR ME locked.

-- Your sister Carolyn is not injured. Being clever with words does not make one blessed. The blessed shall choose one clever with words to speak for them, if their blessing lies elsewhere. Even the Christ picked one such, when words were needed. God in you is good to recognize, but God in you does not make you good. God in you will not give you advice. What advice lives inside you comes from other people, and cannot save or damn you. Water is cold; do not let go of God in you. Your sister loves you. --
Loretta says she found me sitting crosslegged in the sand, cradling a dead albatross in my lap and singing lullabies in unfamiliar tongues with my eyes closed. I remember the tide going out, upward, and an immense silver-haired being stretching his hands out in beckoning, throwing his head back, and vastly slowly laughing the sun from his heart into his teeth as he splashed down silently through the horizon.

I never saw Carolyn again. She sent me a card once.

-skyler, November 8, 1999

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