Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dans un autre pays.

The rudder wouldn't move at all in the shoals. The keel skipped over them and I knew them by name. I would have gone aloft to see them out but I didn't want to tip her, even though she was keel stepped. Instead I leaned off the anchor pocket and put weight sea-side, and as she swung about, I caught the rigging and shook out the reefed sail. The wind blew into it and we were free.

I hated docking not because my skill was poor, not just because my skill was poor, but I hated docking because I left her there; with only the tides to play on.

The walk from the dock to the house was lonely until I opened the door and there was Thomas. Thomas the gray. A fine cat. Thomas and I would read the mail together, me with my whiskey and he with my heart-beat, as he lay on my chest while I opened the envelopes and read aloud, by lantern: "Dear Mr. Sid Hart, ...".
I had found old Tom one day while walking the streets, I bought him a can of tuna and we became fast friends. Thomas was a good and fine gray cat. When the wind blew hard and the rain made it so that you couldn't see outside Thomas would hide in the nook between me and the sofa.
Once I got a letter from you and after all these years I couldn't bear to open it. I knew what it said already. I could tell from the way the stamp was affixed, sloppy and crooked. Like you.

I am a man of the mast, now. I am sheltered in the lee, unfettered by the misdeeds of others.
My ship has no room for that cargo, even the lazarette is full.

These days, it's me, Thomas the gray, the house at the shore and the ship at the sea.
That is all I am, all I ever want to be: a sailor with a gray cat to whom I can read aloud after docking my ketch and leaving her deck with heavy heart.

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