*It must be noted that unless I write FICTION before a piece of writing, it should be assumed that everything on Wilderness of Waves is NON-FICTION. And thus, everything I have told and will tell you about my trip to Louisiana is true, in fact it is truer than true; the Jesus car, the donut shop with sky eyes, the alligator kiss, Honeybird. Check last week’s post to see photos from my journey and further proof of my madness. Darling, wouldn’t I be quite boring to you if I was anything otherwise? What good is my poetry without the absurdity of my reality? And what say ye of a journey without each measure of my reality’s truth? All I want is to be remembered as a storyteller who made people feel the depths of their emotions, by simply sharing the depths of my own.
PART II – Honeybird & Sunbird
I follow the highway preacher and his backwards-forwards Jesus car to a yellow house on the backwater. I run my fingers along his car art. He says, “Have you been saved?” He is a bright man with the sun burning through his gaze. I can’t see anything but white and yellow. I say, “Every morning, when I open my eyes, I am saved.” He tells me that he used to be a bigwig with a fat bankroll. It was all he cared about until he got saved by a cassette tape in 1983. The tape made him pull over and weep on the side of the highway. Said it all happened fast, over course of an hour. Said he was so different by the time he got home that his wife nearly left him. Said his life changed right then and there and hasn’t been the same since.
I saw a woman’s life change earlier today on the swamp, and now I have visions of it all over again. Her black hair is done up in small braids that bounce and her fingernails are as long as the Great Wall of China. Her clothes cling tight to her skin, like a baby koala bear clinging to its mother. Bubba Fishhook has just caught the alligator and it’s swishing it’s body all around, and the chick is shrieking, and the gator swishing, and she takes a step back and falls halfway off the boat and down. In order to save the woman, Bubba Fishhook drops the alligator! The gator falls onto the deck of the boat and its slithering around fast- looking for a feast. It’s going towards the fallen shrieking woman and she is still shrieking and flapping her arms like a sick bird. The reptile is about to get her and the woman is trying to get away, but there is nowhere else to go. A man is kicking at the gator with his rubber tennis shoes when Bubba reaches down and scoops the gator up. I about wet my britches watching it all. Funniest thing I’ve ever done seen…. ever, ever, ever.
I drive on. Back towards city dreams. I can’t stop thinking about the highway preacher and what a difference an hour can make. I don’t know why, but thoughts of him lead me to thoughts of people who wake up from comas and start speaking a foreign language. If this should ever happen to me, I would like to come out speaking French fluently, but knowing my luck I would get stuck with some archaic language, as if I’m not already strange enough. I can see it now, a dazed picture of me in a hospital gown, splashed across the tabloids next to phrases like this “A sailboat accident left an American woman in a comma for three years. She woke up fluent in Sanskrit and nobody else on earth can speak to her.” Now I am thinking about certain sea slugs that can self-decapitate and regrow new heads and hearts whenever the heck they want to. Their hearts grow back after 7 days of it being shed. What if we could do that? And if I could shed my head, would I speak the same language as I did before?
It’s another day, another hour. I am sunbathing like a sunflower, on a Sunbird, in a sundress, beneath sundogs and wishing for a sunburn that leaves my skin sunkissed by sundrops made of sunshine. Sundogs follow the sun, like the moon follows the sun. Sundogs are rainbow balls that get tossed into heaven when sunbeams reflect through ice crystals. A magic show among the clouds. Anyway, there are a lot of these rainbow-ball-sundog things in the sky right now- big, juicy, yummy ones and I, Honeybird, have spent exactly two hours observing them and trying to figure out how I can lick them out of the atmosphere and swallow them into my being.
I am doing all of this from a boat. A powerboat (forgive me sailboat, for I have sinned). The boat is a Sunbird, so I call her Sunbird. Sunbird and I are on a lake that’s made of mud and water. Muddy Mississippi River water, to be exact. The Mississippi is a snake. Sunbird and Honeybird sitting on a snake lake… b-o-b-b-i-n-g…
This lake collides with the Gulf of Mexico, eventually. I open my nautical chart and pretend I’m on Juniper. I sail into my head, past hog island, through a river, into another lake, past a slew of shipwrecks, and after 24 hours I come out from between my eyes and touch saltwater.
Sunbird and I aren’t getting past this lake. Her engine sounds wonky and her steering hydraulics are crusty and she is no airboat, dagnabit! Airboats are made for this Louisiana water world. They got the propeller and engine of an airplane and fly 35 miles per hour over areas that are neither land nor water but a mushy in between. Amphibious like a salamander they are, yes, they are! In the ocean, where everything swells, airboats wouldn’t ride right. I would just have to jump overboard and swim into the gates of the ocean when I got there- wave goodbye to the airboat and all the big trees, old trees, swamp lovin’ trees of the shore.
Sunbird belongs to a friend of a friend, which is a way of saying that we are strangers. Friendly strangers, strangers with the same friend, and because we are strangers, I no longer have to be Olivia. I told the stranger to pick me up at the New Orleans airport wearing an alligator costume and holding a sign that says, “Welcome home, Honeybird.” And bless their bones, they arrived in a truck that is the color of an alligator and through the sunroof they held a sign that said “Honeybird.” It made all of me smile, even my toes.
Why Honeybird? I don’t know! I could have gone with Sugarlove or Moonshine Princess, or Honeybee Sunpath Odyssey, but Honeybird just felt right at the time.