The Coriolis Effect (In Three Movements)

by | Uncanny Details - Day 2

1.
The boat is her own, made in secret over many months by her own hands. Her own hands on the scavenged oars, stolen from the palace storehouse and made for larger hands, she is pushing with all of her weight through the steel waves. The waves clean the wooden hull dry with each lap, water drops salt her lips. Her lips purse, wondering what she had done. She had done nothing wrong, she only wished to see the other side of the sea. The sea is astonished by her strength. Her strength was in hiding her true magnolia intent from her father, until the moment she could leave. She could disappear when the moon slipped beyond sliver. The moon was dark on an evening when there was a celebration for her father. For her father, she thought would do anything. Do anything he forbade, however, and the punishment would be death. Would death be such a deterrent to a girl who has set her tiger mind to something? To discover the blue of the sea and where it holds the sky, she knew she wanted this truth, something of her own she could know about. About the party – it made for the perfect escape. Escape the drunken adults and liars. Liars that could never show her the sunlit truth of the world.

2.
In the world, the Jingwei bird has no purpose but to show apology. Show apology to fathers who believe their children drown. Children drown and there is no chalked lesson for other curious girls other than obedience. Obedience that fathers require. Required her to return to show a blood penance. Penance is a beak full of branches. Branches dropped into the sea, a desperate vermillion need to fill the sea with stones held on the tongue. On the bird’s tongue is its red footed song, “Jing wei.” Jingwei is a sad, spotted replacement for a little girl. A little girl who is still rowing beyond her father’s middle kingdom, through the waves. The waves eddy and pull the branches and stones into the current. Into the current Jingwei becomes desperate, drops into the water whole trees, unrooted. Unrooted trees are unexpectly forgiving. They forgive fathers as sigh as they fall, they’ve stood tall for centuries, and know this has been the way. The way the girl keeps rowing west towards sunrise. Sunrise awakens Jingwei, who continues the work of the father’s grief.

3.
Grief is simply a case of mistaken identity. The identity of a disobedient child can be hidden behind a silken brocade if it can save face. Saving face is something the ocean does not understand. Understand that the ocean, in its constant motion, knows everything and chooses tends to its own weather. Its own weather creates its own replenishment, rain is the ocean’s only concern. Concern the father had for his daughter was hidden behind an embroidered admonishment, as his only aim for her was as treasure, to be a bride. A bride would never approach the ocean uninvited. Uninvited guests include stupid birds who litter the oceans body. The ocean’s body, a palace of seaweed and salinity, continues to buoy the little girl. The little girl never returns. Returns are for white and red spotted birds who do not understand the laws of men. The laws of men would rather make a father adore a bird than go out himself to search for his daughter. His daughter knows that he is afraid of the water. The water, I mean, the ocean taps a lullaby for the girl upon the hull of the boat.

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*I started with 3 still lifes but – oh they started moving! Based on the Jingwei Bird/Nuwa Chinese myth which I cannot stop obsessively writing about. I want to go back and flesh out some sensory details but this is where I got to today.

2 Comments

  1. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Jenne, These are beautiful. There’s a delicacy of perception tied to a fierceness here. The sense of myth comes through even without the notes, though, and because of your writing, the notes make we want to read the myth that compels you. Thank you for these three paragraphs that are so layered, so rich with meaning already. I hope that I am able to see what you do when you finish flushing out more sensory details. There are so many rich modifiers: the steel waves, her tiger mind, when the moon slipped beyond silver, and silken brocade–– love these visual and tactile images. I love “saving face is something the ocean does not understand”– I love the ocean becoming a character; and this protagonist, her determined curiosity, set against becoming a disobedient child, this violation of the father’s authority is a compelling female heroine, turning values upside down the way myths can. Thank you. Reading this has been for me, a fine finish to this weekend.

  2. Alina Stefanescu

    Jenne, this is a fantastic and skillfully-wrought piece. I read it many times and then googled the myth as well (thank you for introducing me to it).

    “The sea is astonished by her strength.” The sea as character here creates a whole world, a world outside the world, a world from both the child’s view (where all is compossible) and from the mythical view. I love it.

    “Grief is simply a case of mistaken identity. The identity of a disobedient child can be hidden behind a silken brocade if it can save face. Saving face is something the ocean does not understand. Understand that the ocean, in its constant motion, knows everything and chooses tends to its own weather. Its own weather creates its own replenishment, rain is the ocean’s only concern. ” ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!!! I hope you submit this so others can read it. Gorgeous motion and a perfect example. I could even use this as an exemplary text for this workshop. I hope you believe in this piece. I sure do.

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