Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Sun In

The sun was now resting his huge disk upon the edge of the level ocean, and gilded the accumulation of towering clouds through which he had traveled the livelong day, and which now assembled on all sides, like misfortunes and disasters around a sinking empire and falling monarch. Still, however, his dying splendour gave a sombre magnificence to the massive congregation of vapours....
                    Sir Walter Scott, The Antiquary

The sun fell in the ocean and we set out to find it. There was me, Andy, and St. Joan. Andy cast off and our prow found open water. Only a sail-shaped blackness distinguished the sea from the sea of stars.

"From land to land is the most concise definition of a ship's earthly fate." But there's no land where we're going and sailing's a poor simulacrum of a walk.

In the middle of the ocean we failed to find the middle. Even horizons were on strike. At least fresh fish were plentiful. Joan caught them on her spoonbill, Andy cleaned them with his pigsticker. I took them on coals and off again and burned my mouth on their glow. A silvered ember's slow going, it's a splash.

The ship knifed through the water. The ship scissored an unseen seam. The ship bridged air in the form of bubbles. The ship was something to live on. The sword of the ship ploughed a furrow. The ship gulleted to stay unfed.

Andy blew on his oboe, St. Joan did a dance by the brazier and flung her cropped locks to and fro. I sang: "When a lovely flame dies / Smoke gets in your eyes."

Facts are not persons and the reverse is equally true. Yet I ask you to honor this fact of our absence.

On the eighteenth day the water churned, the wind stopped, we began to rise and fall like sleeping. Finny fanged fish showed us their bellies in great profusion, flickering once in the light of the lamps hung amidships. A green belly caught that light and flashed it to its neighbor who flashed it lower and lower. The bright bellies spun in sequence to form a vortex which we joined. In a white gown and breastplate Joan stood at the taffrail, all eyes on her, and smiled before she dove. The virginal ideal of French womanhood sank like a stone out of sight. Like the ideal stone that dreams of uniting gravity and light.

For another eighteen days we swung from beam to bream. Fresh water ran low as did the cans of dolphin-safe tuna. Andy gawped from the masthead. I lay on my back on the poopdeck from which the whirlpool described the stars.

If morning comes without a point to assign light from and Andy nowhere to be found.

Alone from this bottle I write you: save yourself from seeking the earth.

Was it a fiberglass banana or a wooden O? What was the final sound: a rending of the curtain? A crumpling of charts? Decide on math or myth.

A dolphin bore me away and I dared not glance back at the ship I'd fired, its timbers burning free like a hand and flaming pencil. Felt its heat blanch the leaf of my head, inducing a greenness to grow.

Solitude has named me thee.

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