|Williams, Heathcote. Falling For a Dolphin. New York: Arcade, 1991.
This book surfaced at the exact moment I needed it to fill in a long echoing cavern in my soul. Whether it resounded with watery images of the womb or caressed me with some primordial touch of kinship is in some ways immaterial. What is important is that it touched me completely and inexplicably to the depths of my soul.
The concept of the book is so unbelievable that I need to detail it before I go on. Williams outfitted himself with a wetsuit and snorkel and had himself dropped off in the Atlantic on the west coast of Ireland. He waited there in the water for a dolphin to come to communicate with him. There was a report of a lone dolphin that lived in the area, but that was the only certainty that he had. The dolphin came and they spent the day cavorting in the waves. It is hard to tell from the text, but I think he spent one night floating and waiting, perhaps he slept in one of the caves on the beach. The day of the meeting was spent floating with the waves and wind, while tapping his weight belt with a pebble. Hours drifted by with no meeting except for the occasional jelly fish bobbing by; until the nine foot long Porbeagle sharks came bumping against his sides. Knowledge that this particular shark did not harm humans was of cold comfort in a lonely sea but triggered an intuitive response and final solution. "Dolphin, dolphin, dolphin, dolphin!!! "Yes he came, not immediately, but soon there after and actually after the sharks had already tired of their game.
| That day was spent learning to communicate with each other and with the dolphin trying
to share raw fish. The dolphin scanned Williams with his radar and sonar sending weird
sensations through his body. By the end of the day the bond was so strong that the dolphin
spontaneously lifted him on to his back for a ride.
The format for the book is a poem connecting a series of photos taken by the author and from other collections. The whole ties together and flows like the waves the book encompasses.
I kept thinking during the meeting of the silence that falls between strangers. I know that when I use to bring people from the city to the country for a visit, before I had electric toys to entertain, that after ten minutes of quiet people would start to squirm. The level of peace between this 180 lb. man and 1000 lb. alien must have been deeper than that between two lovers swimming in their familiar bed.