Ghost Under Rocks – Ra Ra Riot – 2008

I keep having these waking moments where I am half dreaming about Lucy in a sort of twilight between one world and the next.  And I feel myself reaching for her, but I can’t get to her.  She’s almost here.  She just needs to be led by our voices, but she can’t understand what we are saying.  She’s just almost here and almost there.  Sometimes our voices startle her.

“When every little thing”

I was at the beach with my brother this weekend.  He kept telling me about stone crabs down at the oyster reef in the bay behind his house.  He kept describing their claws and that you had to know how to find them underneath the rocks.

“You own is looking back”

So I remembered how when we were kids, my brother would find all of the living things everywhere.  There was a little stream by where we lived in New Jersey.  We would go there and he would spend hours finding the crayfish buried in the mud at the bottom of the shallow water.  Then he would observe them closely for hours.

“At you and starts to mean”

He did this everywhere we went.  At the beach in North Carolina, he found the sand crabs and the sand fiddlers in the tidal sands.  Blue crabs in the sound.  Little living things are everywhere.  And he would find them.  So we were fishing on the oyster reef, and the tide was very low, so he calls to me, “See I bet there’s a stone crab under here!”  Under the first stone is a medium sized crab with giant claws bigger than its body.  He stuck a small board down into the crab’s face.  The crab reached up and grabbed the board.  My brother lifted the board and the crab came with it.  Hanging in the air.

“Less than it ever did”

Apparently stone crabs can grow their claws back, so you can rip off a claw and throw the crab back to grow another claw.  We didn’t take a claw as we aren’t sure whether it’s such a great idea to be eating seafood out of the bay around Galveston right now.

“On every, on every inch of stone”

And I kept thinking of him turning the stones looking for the crabs.  All of this life hidden everywhere, and most of my day is spent oblivious to it.  There ended up being giant crabs buried in the mud under rocks I had been standing on for hours.  How much life is right in front of my face?  How close is Lucy?  I mean I see her.  There she is in the physical belly.

“Skin and cloth”

But we are skin and cloth.  Like the unpracticed notes of nature on a dry drum, we don’t make any music.  Just noise and reflection.  Static matter.  And somehow even this is breathing life.  The universe expanding.  Breathing.  Pushing us back and forth.  Even living in death.  Immortality in the close intimacy of mud underneath a rock and the empty caverns of blackness between us.

“Made to leave you”

And I feel myself digging in the muck for life.  It’s a creation ritual.  And how many rituals do we miss even as we perform them.  When my son was born, I didn’t recognize that I was part of this rite until it was almost over.  No less profound, I am deeply affected by it.  The universe split open all at once like a bolt of lightning and handed us a child.

“Here you are you are breathing life into”

This is a little different.  I feel her coming.  I can hear her voice.  I can see her little body in the graphs produced by the heart and contraction monitors.  Her digital face.  Her hands that never stop moving.  Twisting back and forth.  Her body is impatient.

“Ghost under rocks like notes found”

And she can hear us.  Our concern.  Our worry.  Our impatience for her arrival.  Her mother’s gentle and loving chiding.  Her brother – already long past disbelief like she was Santa Claus.  He probably believes in Santa Claus more than her.  The nurses in and out.  The endless discussions about the river of giving that is our community.

“In pocket coats of your fathers,”

She is tugging at my pant leg.  She is 14 and sullen.  She is 8 and incorrigible.  She is an enormous healing.  An open wound and the bandage.  An infant smiling.  A newborn red and puffy, unready for the world.  We are willing slaves to her instincts.

“Lost and forgotten,”

She is preparing us for an enormous disruption.  Her brother exhausted, expectant and disbelieving.  Her mother quiet and brooding.  Her father pouring his heart out to her.  I am digging in the mud for your claws.  Take a hold of me and pull yourself into the arms of the universe.

“all all all your soaking wet dreams,

Belief only a spark.  Listen to our music, thrashing in the dark.  We are here.  All of what you are is breathing and growing.  Groping in the dark.  Can you hear us calling you?  Let us lead you home.

“you’ve spent them”

Ra Ra Riot has this tendency for the dramatic.  With dense harmonies and instrumentation.  Complex vocal melodies and interesting phrasing.  It’s a maximum approach.  There is so much to hear.  So much worth hearing.  I had a hard time choosing a song to write about, which brings up another point of unfairness in my single song per artist rule.  Ra Ra Riot has so many good songs.  But Ghost Under Rocks is gigantic and multi-faceted.  Unclear and open ended metaphors and this grasping for the ritualistic.  The song wants to dance in the moonlight and sit in a smoky hut.  Groping in the mud for hope and deliverance.

“you have gone and dreamt them”

And you reading.  When is it time to live?  Creation doesn’t ever end.  We are stone crabs.  Ghosts under rocks.  Waiting for our turn in our lives.  Our own time.  We are the road on which our children walk.  So much is left up to chance except the passion leading our children out of the dark.  As Lucy coalesces, I can feel that she has been there all along.  Piecing together our shattered hopes and aspirations.  We are only shadows of her dreams.  We toss in her restless slumber.

“Dry, now you ask your babies why, why, why?”

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