scrambled down a steep double black diamond slope
loose with shale to a hidden cove in Big Sur.
There amongst gray and green boulders, just above
the mighty Pacific I finally found what I sought,
for I had made many futile attempts. Pure ivory
form, winged, 4 feet thick, the cranium. I lay
my body over it, and press my cheek into its
cool firmness. I place my hands, then my face
onto the two nodules, breast-like and peer into
the round hole where the spinal fluids passed
into the brain. Catching a trace of whale scent
I began to weep. For me it is more eloquent than
the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. I have
returned many times to listen to the bone, to
marvel over its ingenuity and function, and to
after the World Trade Center Tragedy, the bones
of a juvenile humpback whale washed ashore. Some
were brought onto the land where I was living and
began to inform my waking and sleeping dreams.
I began casting sheets of paper over them.
To my amazement when I lifted the sculptures off of the bones I felt the aliveness
of the whales transferring into the paper. I decided to bring my handmade paper
sheets in my backpack to the cove and to form them over the cranium. After several
days of drying amidst noisome fogs and full moon seas, I lifted the paper off
of the bone, and held it up. Someone exclaimed “AN ANGEL!”
Through the bones we can purify ourselves of negative energy. When I am politically
active on the whales’ behalf, I am purified. When I dance with the paper
sculptures, they purify me. In Eastern spiritual practices handmade paper is
imbued with healing and mystical properties. It is in this spirit that I work.
I feel their energy penetrating my shoulder blades and spinal column. Similar
to the shamans who take on the power of an animal by putting on its skin, I know
I am taking on the essence of the whale when I place the whale guardian over
my shoulders and head. At the beginning I am often overcome with the portent
of the mission, for each time I seek to fulfill the inexplicable. Linear time
ceases. I enter into cosmic stillness. By the end my body is vibrating with the
whale body as contained in the paper.