He has sat long here, for his friend, waiting on the dock's farthest seaward edge.  On the south border of this port town, hung legs into the tide's break, he watches the queue of ships stretch in hundred meter intervals out there on the world's crust, waiting to come to port.  They all experience the evening together, the act of a monarch sun relinquishing its seat till day and night are equal, and we all are shepherded into the jurisdiction of that cold stone's glow.

His sandals lie just inside the door to his home.  Ragged, they are painted the trace of his foot by four years of oil and wear.  He steps them on each day as evening comes into view and turns toward the water.

He does not count months or tally seasons on his wall.  This is not the sort of thing on which a person should hang burden like expectation or schedule.  The clock in his chest does not tick in elucidated terms but keeps its watch, nonetheless.  At its urging, whether a month or a year in time, he'll return to the water and wait for the sea to return his friend.   Then, he'll take him in, help him back into legs for the land, and they'll start an unpacking of their own, not unfamiliar to a port like this one.

Often, this landfall results in tromps up the city's hill, above the gears clamoring in the port and the country's white sands, above the pub they'll frequent, and the men saddled with guitars and whiskey fables on the raucous edge of the city square.  They'll go up there and track waves drifting players of a complex story across their stretch of sea.  They'll upturn their palms to boast scars, rest switch grass and gritty tales between cheek and teeth, and prime the other's ear for heavier contents to come.

They are these events whose history is summoned when their compatriots in town invoke the language of vocation.  Yes, he draws hammers from the furnace in a blacksmith's shop, this man, for coins and a meal.  And the other will raise sails a mountain's stretch off the sea and wind ropes thicker than his thigh, for keep and board.  But they spell home with beach sand and grilled fish, a sip of wine and stories for their loves.  These exchanges between the strong back of earth and the fluid arms of the sea speckle even the breaths of newborns here; for millennia these swaths have sung to one another a muse's song which does not understand the obligation of their divorce but masters, time and again, the celebration of their reunion.  On the occasion of such landfall, all the city comes to the beach, to burn the year's wood stock, to dance another annum's thanks into the tide.  Goodness proves the grain of its cut, shining, well into the dark.

Yet, there are tariffs levied on their exchange.  He'll sit for a season on that plank, our man, stooped at the dock's far reach, each time indebted to the sea in verse and persuasion.  The sea charges him a tale for this homecoming, like the last and the next.  She does not forfeit her goods so easily.  Hours laid long end to end, he stares down the breakers out beyond him, upturning every one of his ribs and the vessels hidden therein for whatever rhetor's substance the sea seeks as duty.  Calmly he commences these readings, speaking to the expanse, but always, its patience outlasts him; perhaps, in fact, it is abject exhaustion, a beggar's posture, that she demands.

The span of the water will turn and trick you, he knows.  Reorient your lust for communion, and impatience for brotherhood, against the very ones to whom you're calling.  Saltwater skinned and sun seared, he shakes and mutters, Your dispatches are few and for it I love you, but I cannot believe the sea to be so great between the throw of your anchors.  He ages, sends his years to sink on each sentence he serves the waves.  The town watches him tithe, offer his ton of flesh, for the safe return and chronicle of his friend.

It is the season now.  He bares his sandals and pilgrims the trail to the surf.  He need not an extra breath before boarding the dock nor does he give pause to spy how it's swallowed by the water's gape.  You'll see him, at the near edge of sunrise and on every stride of evening, soothing lady ocean out of wariness, moving her to deliver this city its son. 

1 comment:

  1. Erik, this is awesome. I love your active verbiage, the way you find more interesting ways to say things, like "help him back into legs for the land." I don't know what your goals are for your writing, but have you thought about only posting snippets on your blog? From what I understand, if you publish the whole thing here first, it might be difficult to publish it later in a magazine or book or whatever.