Self-Portrait as Miranda
My story begins at sea, in the bitter liquid. If not, it would begin in Florida, along I-95 in the circular drive of a circular, lime-green motel. But I have selected the sea, and you must trust me on this. Truly terrible stories begin in navigational error, a slight misreading of the sight that sets the crew in a maelstrom. Perhaps in another story it would be a man standing at the door, surprised that he’s knocked, that you have, in turn, answered. He wishes now that he had lingered in that drive, paused before resuming the course toward your door. As the crew, in desperate but unspoken straits, wishes belatedly for a drag on the anchor. Frequently, we are thus carried along. Frequently, de profundis, we struggle ashore to find ourselves, if not stranded, then beached. We are inclined to be grateful for land. Survivors of shipwreck cast two shadows: the outline of interrupted light, and an aura, thirst to drown again. Perhaps, in the unwritten story, the man at the door looks thirsty. You sense he has come to repair himself at the dry dock of your flesh. There is nothing else to do. Your home is an island of white sand and he wades in from the shoals of the walkway asking for fresh water. So you find him berth. This much Miranda herself could explain: how Ferdinand come shimmering from the sea appeared no less a rescuer than she, with his handful of kelp and the pretty words of a man desperate for sanctuary. Ferdinand missed that she was shipwrecked too. Miranda had the shadowy thirst. You know the rest of the story. They’re happy. Then it ends in the bitter sea.