LEAVING A WAKE
LEAVING A WAKE
No sign of anyone who might know
enough about this boat to take full control,
to comfort many a mere passive mariner
when the sounds of the sea batter salted steel –
like the boom just now as an ocean’s drop
slapped the keel to resonate in emulation of
a thousand lusty thunderclaps –
such din might cause this sailor (an atheist too)
to pray to gods that might exist to apply their powers
to stop this hell on earth, these devil screams
and return him whole to land-side dreams.
I muse over the bold bright naming of this vessel,
MS Kong Harald (out of Norway), as if the sea were
concerned with our (or any) notion of royalty;
Harald has no sway over the weather or
the elements or artisans that have conspired to
baffle clumsy Earth and each of its denizens
who had hoped to master the art of prediction
of what will and won’t confront the wary traveller
for the entirety of his journey. They offer no such
cyclical reliability– if indeed any cycle at all.
And I permit myself an arrogation
in the form of a cheap wry smile at my peers –
that is, implicitly but deliberately excluding myself.
But to what end? In truth, I stagger about
just as much as any of them, unseeing, proactive as
blancmange, reactive as jelly. From time to time,
one of our kind will creep from its cave, on its belly,
thinking it has come up with an idea as how to either
improve mankind’s lot or dupe a simple majority into
believing that it has. Oh, the woeful playing out of
each such arch-conceit, the crafty weaving of
the web in consolidation of such low deceit.
Ye politicians, watch the tide wash past your feet!
Such is but one fable of man and water;
the latter always wins in any allegory, parable
or playtime story. So I turn my mind to ways in which
water flows benign, might help our blighted species.
I lightly kneed the dough on this and thoughts move
to bread and baking: the idea of quietly watching
the wake we make flows off the pen and onto paper;
the idea that every act has an immediate impact;
the notion that we test its validity and adequacy
by reference to the water in which it was performed.
We leave a wake a thousand times a day, each to
plait, bind and intertwine to make just one in preparation
for the last, slow motion journey with the ferryman.
And the ferryman already knows about
the wake thus created, at once a staff, a story,
a calibration. He grasps the wake and takes
the hand of the traveller, stepping from the shore
into his tiny, briny coracle. He tows the wake behind,
knowing that the strokes he employs are there,
in the wake, so he can use no others.
He rows silently, steadily and, though mute, he
answers the questions the traveller has as to
why, how and how long; and the traveller
stops and recalls the wave that hit the Kong Harald
and recognises the message in the thunderclaps.
The ferryman ships oars, pulls the boat ashore
and, pointing landward, says all this is forever yours.