Sans Terre

The horizon was aflame in amber light as we sailed south. Our rendezvous had been mostly pre-dawn, like reveries, smothered by slumber and silence. When I embarked on this little venture two years ago I did not anticipate such an affair, extending to the remote and the submerged, weaving mediums beyond exposures. Nor did I expect to return with a sense of saudade or an overwhelm of flashbacks. 

As I stood by the rocky edge of Terumbu Pempang Laut during the last hour of ebb tide, memories of my first swimming attempts, of collecting coquillage, and of my aunt's curls dancing in the wind as we basked on boulders, flooded my senses as though I was back home again. I was no longer on a seaward reef flat between refineries and inaccessible islands devised for wargames, I was on a neglected strip of coast facing the Atlantic Ocean where home was a mere 10-minute walk away. “Oh, la plage!” I thought to myself. There I was standing on the same prickly, sandless beach littered with displaced boulders; gaping at the rolling waves on the horizon. It was vast, blue and real until a sea giant named ‘Yang Ming’ glided into my sightline and resettled me on the Terumbu. 

As I shuffled back to the dinghy, there was a sudden sense of loss and wonder, and I yearned to stay longer. But the sun was setting high and the spring tide was coming in apace; we had to go before it overflowed.