Thursday, June 24, 2010


But this is a mess. I need some structure. We need structure.

Help me dredge up the structure of this old boat from the bottom of the ocean. This algaed carcass of a ship, for years a playground for the fish, will structure my story. Help me drag it from the depths and as we heave, I’ll tell you some things. Listen.

I wish I could speak but dyspepsia holds my tongue. I feel such a weight of tales, such a full stomach of words that I might vomit you a whole book, a library of ink.

Be patient. I will get there.

This boat – and we are heaving it, yes we are – is drippingly emerging from the clouded waters. Heave ho. And your muscles are strong. You are a good heaver. You tug like a veteran ship salvager. But keep your focus and I shall sing.

My song will keep our sinews well oiled. Oh look at the proud old ship! Even its drying drips are wondrous. Look how it retains its glory even after so many years entombed in that liquid Hades. But I was going to sing. I will sing.

Heave hoe, the reaper mows
And as he goes with timely blows
The wheaty ears are blasted.

Heave hoe, the gentle mice
Like scuttling lice, or rolling dice
Flee full-tummed unfasted.

Heave hoe, those earthy greens
Do still beteem, by nature’s wean
Ne’er letting death hold sway

Heave hoe, on nature’s road
Some will be toads, some sing fair odes
And some will do what may

As this old wooden beast gains its renaissance into air we smell its salty promise... while my promises of tales to charm your ears remain yet unfruited. I must needs stop stopping and get on with starting to start. So stand back.

No, not so far back as you can’t hear me over the roar of the creaking vessel (as it inches glacier-like). Thats right, legs firm and keep up your tugging, for I can feel the start of a tale coming on. And what a tale I have to tell.

Oh but look how the gulls - how they hover and swoop, plunging their beaks into the marine foliage, replete as it is with the bugs and mites of the deep. From this uprooted civilisation they pluck in their beaks the spongy, slimy creatures whose eyes, if they have them, are blinded by the first-time-seen sun, and whose lungs, if they have them (or something like them) are drowned in the caustic breezes of the super-marine world. Dazzled and shocked, these wrigglers squirm and recede, trying to hide clam-like in the algal sludge which this doting ship wears like a dressing gown. But plucked they must be, for the gulls are hungry and have no mercy on this chewy treat, no sorrow for this rare and delicious game.

I should focus. You should check me in my digressions. I grow old. Indeed, I forgot myself and my professed readiness to tell tales. I saw the elegant gulls and forgot myself. But you can forgive me, can you not? These gulls playing and pecking at the whale-like hulk: few sights have entered my eyes so majestically. Surely the wide-eyeing majesty of the Now – and not just any now, these gulls, this particular compelling Now – trumps the dustiness of the Used-to-be. Who can cast their thoughts into the distant land of past events? – Who can do this when muscles wrench at a thousand ropes and chants of “heave” have scarcely fallen dumb when they return with redoubled potency, when a historic floating beast of old rears its sleepy head at our cajoling tuggery?

But lo! The Now strikes again – look! The cavernous underbelly of the ship revealed, slowly rising from the water, and we see inside the cabins. A shabby cross section washes into view, rotten timber fallen away here and there to reveal glimpses of the domestic innards. Is that not an old desk, three legged with age, carbuncled with the many kisses of the subaqueous salts? Yes, by jove! An old desk! How startling to see such a familiar thing so changed, do long dunked and forgotten in the colossal bucket of the seas.

But forgotten no longer. We remember you, oh joyous desk of old. It is broad and sturdy, even in its ruined posthumos-ity. I’d wager these were the captains quarters! What think you on’t? And what treasures might there be, of gold and olden silver, of faraway climes and lost tribes. I tremble just to think.

But that was my tale, I see it now. It crept in under the door, all stealth. I’ve told my tale. All the while stopping and starting, ever digressing and circumambulating. But it seeped through - a crafty osmosis! The beans are spilled. The cat is out.

The sprightly goblin dances no more (nor jives the goblinly sprite!)

You see: I told it all in the not-telling. I spoke it in the nods and winks, in the gaps, in nonsense. It was between the lines - between the ropes!

Words but grab at meanings true
Feeble in their violence
Living holds the flowing you
And the rest is silence.

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