Having spent much of my life near the coast, both at home and abroad, I am less of a swimmer than you might expect, though most of my water time has been spent near northern shores, if that explains anything for you. But I am greatly comforted by being near water without needing to be in it. Rivers, oceans, lakes and ponds, streams and waterfalls, puddles and pools alike all have their appeal and the sight and sound of them soothes my soul like few other things can do. A walk along a riverbank or beach boardwalk, out on the mud flats or wading in the cool fringes of a foaming inbound tide–all have the power to send the complications of life fleeing, if only for a while.
Not so surprising, then, that many of my artworks play with the cool hues of water and the shadowy welcome of its associations. Whether in the impressionistic and abstract styles seen here or in images quite specific to the sea, the hold that water has on my heart must make its appearance often just to comfort me.All the same, as a northerner by birth and years of residence, I have always been wildly fascinated too by the idea of those mythic turquoise tropical waters whose gem-like clarity would surely entice me in, offering the siren-like assurance that I must be utterly safe in them since I can see practically forever in their depths. I know that this is not entirely true, but the appeal of their warmth and seemingly pure glassy transparency has its potent pull on my imagination anyway. So it was a bit of a fait accompli that I should love it when I did at last have my chance to step into the perfectly sheer aquas and blues of the Caribbean for the first time. It was everything I’d hoped, and of course a little something more.Swimming in Warm Water
I: Skimming along as if in flight Just under the surface of a lake, I can look up and see through its tinted lens A circular and absurdly distorted universe Of inbent trees examining me in kind, Of ship-sized cumulus zeppelin clouds whizzing by, The pillowed prows of ducks plowing past me And convoluted birds careening In zigzag traffic from shore to shore.
II: Looking down, I see dazzling curtains of kelp Dyeing mottled sunlight as it Cooks the lake like a giant kettle full of fish. Flitting, darting shapes shoot up to nip me Or casually brush by And I exult in floating a subtle touch Toward a parti-colored veil-tailed fish When it fixes me with its dully silver, Unemotional lidless eye.
Because for all that we know and admire about its clarity and simplicity, and surely for its necessity to life, water is also still a source of great mystery and power and its depths both literally and metaphorically may never be fully plumbed.