The sun rises ahead of the star.
Then the glow of the sun
envelops the star.
The locals dubbed her Indigo after the full
sleeve of deep blue geometric shapes
spiraling down to her wrist. Long before
us, surfers marked safe boundary for
midnight rides with boulders on the beach.
Knew every rock, jetty, twist & turn of the
reef, section of the wave. You think you
know a crush until it undulates beneath
you in the dark. Reeks harsher, rides
faster, swells that much bigger. What we
did was go down to the beach on the full
moon, drop into a wave & track straight
along the wall. What we did was catapult
ourselves onto a trampoline of black
matter. What I remember? Her hair,
blonde, as the rising sun.
People say youth is wasted on the young.
I say the ocean wastes nothing. Indigo
pronounced my name like it was an
element. Sounded alarms in my blood so
that when I turned toward her, sand still
raced out of my hands. Selene. The waves
were clean. We paddled out past
the break. Waited for the amped pause
before the next set of curls. Indigo caught
the swell right at its peak, then ripped her
board into its shoulder. I could see the
black outlines of fish hurtling past her
head in the water. There’s a barrel of
verve, a tunnel of ocean you’re razoring
out of. All you can see is horizon, spray,
burning light, surf, your halcyon self.
Sometimes the wave chandeliers as you
exit. Sometimes you streak across its face
like a gold-bearing asteroid plummeting
This far north in the Atlantic// the
weather changes 15x an hour. [Indigo,
you’ve been gone a short time, but it feels
like ages]. I go back to our surf trip
in Iceland //dive ducking rollers// on the
mint iceberg sea. Your hooded wetsuit
encased in a beard of ice. Our bodies
numbed & the beach desolate. The final
night: orange gumdrop tent pitched
luminous beneath the emerald// shock of
the Aurora Borealis. The lights are a
reflection of salmon, deer, & walrus
spirits’// dancing, you said. But all I
noticed were your lips.
Forget what you think you want. In Bali
for just a few days, we chased our tails
catching fast waves on short beaches.
Stumbled upon too many surfers on too
few barrels. Then came the sea of stars. If
I live to be a thousand, I won’t get bored of
planet earth, Indigo said as we watched
static blue rollers crash on the shore.
Mineral-electric constellations broke out
around our hands & arms when we dove
into the surf. Indigo engraved a wave—
her body’s inky outline trailing an alien
streak of lime water behind her. Flecks of
lit algae clung to her legs & arms like a
Pollack painting. If I believed in these
things, nirvana would be that jilted flash
of liquid phosphorus.
We vanished into Hawaii chasing maluhia.
Dug an underground spot boasting of
steep-walled, thick-lipped barrels, which
roared over pipe reef. Lava rock blunted
by waves awaited our calamity five feet
below. Indigo tossed me a ring with
waves inscribed across it— hulking
pipelines just like the ones freight-
training before our eyes. We weren’t even
allowed to know the name of this beach
for fear of desecration. Pre-Incan kings
ringed their crowns with waves to signify
infinite power, she said. We waxed the
guns necessary to shred these 40-foot
faces & I slipped the ring on my finger.
Surfing used to be this ritual. A space-
time relativity. We chanted our gratitude
& whooped to amp ourselves up. If you
fall, tuck into a ball. It could save your life,
I heard someone say as we grabbed the
towline & motored into the break.
El Niño drove in 50-foot swells that
slammed into the islands with gale force
fetch. Riders huddled in small galaxies
swinging their arms & tinkering with
their boards. On her final wave, Indigo
crashed backdoor into a monster swell.
Streaked down the face that had every
other surfer free falling into oblivion.
What I know is Indigo rode out of the
mouth of insanity & into the Aloha State
Championship record books. What I’m not
sure of is what happened after she
surfaced. If she was later seen striding
into the tree line with a surfboard under
her arm. Or spotted diving in after a kid
caught in the riptide. What I do know?
Indigo got fully on rail with the most
spectacular bomb of her life & was never
seen again. Neither was her surfboard.
I watched them search for you through
the smashed windshield of my confusion.
Snapped leash//deep-water foam pillar//
knockout plunge//. After the first night,
I dreamed your ring unfurled into a
hieroglyphic scroll with hedonistic
scenes. Surfers drawn in cyan electric
slashes. At least a dozen times before that
day, I’d paddled on the surface while
you sprinted across the ocean floor
shouldering a 50lb boulder. Mana training
we called it. It was supposed to protect
against //thunderous overhang// or a
//two-wave hold down//. It was sheer
badassery. After the last time, we clanked
beers & laughed with the other guys on
the beach. What I’ll never know is how to
stop a person from vanishing. Indigo, you
were in the world// then you were our
Annie Seaton is a Southern California artist, Independent Art Advisor and mother of two teenagers. Obsessed with collecting photography, Seaton has been making artwork for 25 years inspired mainly on the Southern California surf culture and childhood memories. Her artwork usually involves water and people in her life. She makes mixed media artworks using enlarged photography ink jet prints and acrylic ink on wood. She also exhibits cut photographic remains and call them “ghost surfers.”
Sarah Sala is a poet and educator with roots in Brooklyn, Michigan. Her poem “Hydrogen” was recently featured in the “Elements” episode of NPR’s hit show Radiolab in collaboration with Emotive Fruition. “The Ghost Assembly Line,” a chapbook of her selected poetry, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in Spring 2016.