The sun steps slowly through the clouds, red and orange, almost rising.
My ship sails silently through the folds of the sea, as they slowly awaken, eyes beginning to blink. Silence reigns.
I climb to the bow, glancing back and forth from the sea to the sky. I meet the sun on the bowsprit as my eyes slip through the fog.
Twelve hours ago I saw the sun sink deep into the clouds, and now it rises, and seems to say to me:
Sun What have you done, where have you been, move on, move on.
To answer sun is to be burnt undone, for no matter how strong, it is only a messenger, sent by The One.
Though the air is crisp its you I’m breathing in, and my boat seems to drift from the lapping orange waves into your arms. You’re a thousand miles away but here am I, remembering, and being melted by the sun. It’s a beautiful morning – but the new day’s beauty is far from my mind. Its you I see again and again though the fire of the sun itself scream for my attention. I have walked too close to you, let my hands too near you. I am burned by love. But you’re as far from me as these sails are from my home.
Sailor What is her soul that it stays with me even when my own mind has left me. That it keeps me awake in the night and closes my eyes to the day. Am I not a captain among men? What is it that makes me wish I was not and holds me in lethargy – is it not sickness?
Sea I could kill you with a thought, but you ride my back as though you yourself had tamed me. God has surrounded you with beautiful things and you are dwelling on pain. The time has come, move on. Move on!
I rub the sweat from my hands, nervously awaiting those challenges in the port ahead, though I know not where the sea, sun and wind will take me. I know only those I leave behind, they roll over and over in my mind enough to make me howl. I can never return there and still be happy or free, I can never go back except with burden upon burden.
So long as it stays with me, I can never truly leave, no matter where I go. My body may go this way, but my heart and mind desires another.
I sob into my fingers, I see myself as just an empty ship without her, sailing nowhere.
I struggle; knowing who I am and knowing my duty, confident that I can and will discharge it when I reach my destination – At the same time not wishing to live another moment. I am torn between the Sailor and the Man.
With discontent and impatience, my heart sinks like water through my hand. It is like fighting, fists clenched, for the snow in my hand. My hands go cold and numb.
I am trying to surrender to God, who is eternal, whilst fighting over everything else, which is temporal.
With a shout, I fall backwards into the deck, and send my hand to my back. I look up and at first see nothing. What pushed me? What threw me? What shouted in my ear? I stand up, looking around and about me more for revenge than caution – then I see – the clouds turn dark and start to rush. The waves tip my boat from side to side, and I fall again – I hear the lightening and I roll with the ship – I hit the hull and cry out.
My hands grip the deck and then they throw me in the direction of the masts. I clamber up and up towards the sails, competing with the winds that came so suddenly. From time to time I slip because of rain and grab on again, shaken and terrified. I start to work…All the while distracted…The ship…is sinking…
…I have seen many storms, and sailed through many waters – many times I have been afraid, but this is the first time I have been fully scared. Scared sick – because this particular storm is here for me, and I think, as I balance fifty feet in the air holding on by one cold wet aching hand against a gale, that it means to kill me.
Work done, I do not make my way to the deck slowly and with care but quickly and with difficulty. I do not dare pit caution against the elements; they will kill me if they wish to. They will certainly kill me if I try to fight them.
I run down into the holds, wind trying to trip me; even the stairs are perilous.
The lights have gone but I know my way well enough. Aye, and here it is, my treasure.
The water is pounding in here, the bulkheads about to break. I gather as many boxes as I care to and heave them to the deck. My arms ache. But I could not care.
I take a good hold of the rail and look over at the sea, counting seconds in my head, hoping that the storm stop. Then I look at my crates. Gold from the east, silk from the islands, foreign plants. Sapphires. Skins of animals I do not rightly know. Letters and keepsakes. Diamonds. More letters. I leave the letters until last and one by one throw into the water crate after crate – together near the weight of fifty men. All this to lighten the boat.
I charge down the stairs again, feeling strangely as though a weight has left me and not just the boat. I make many trips between the holds and the deck, I throw away all my treasures. And I sit, hanging on to the rail, and sigh. I threw it all over except the letters. I couldn’t throw those. My head sinks into my knees and I begin to pray.
I took the watch from my wrist, threw it in the sea but it didn’t help. I don’t even see it drop. Only the flashes of lightning on the water, seconds after. The water looks like crude oil…Aye, and the sky looks like death. I feel sick enough. So I leave the deck, holding the last box of letters and keepsakes close to my chest, and bury myself in the holds of the ship, in a locked cabin under candle light – a locked cabin rocking itself apart.
Sailor Here I am, deliver me! Tell the wind to stop! Tell the rain to leave! Deliver me as you did so many times before, back there, in the place that I have come from! Where have you placed me? Am I to die of the journey? Or will you deliver me?
I thumb through my collection of newspaper articles and pictures, letters from Liguria. I loved that land so much, that even now, especially now, I cannot remove it from my mind. Liguria was like a woman to me. It was beautiful, warm, pleasant. Verdant.
She, Liguria, is in my head, she is in my heart, she is between my teeth and under my nails, she is clinging on like mussels to my hull. But she is not in the sea, not in the sun, not in the ship and though I know not where I go, she will not be there. Liguria! Il sole è più luminoso quando siete con me!
I thumb through my keepsakes. Newspapers, the day I arrived and they day I departed. Letters – the day I arrived and every day thereafter. These mean more than gold to me, I couldn’t throw them. Pictures and paintings. Of the land I loved. Of the people I loved more. I want to relive these pictures, aye, and repaint that sky. I want…
Now I know what I need to do. And almost wish that I didn’t.
The room seems darker than before, black and grey. I stumble up to deck, savage blue rasping in my face, carrying my keepsakes at arms length. I say a prayer. I throw them into the sea. The throw rocks me harder than the storm. The storm itself chokes and instantly ends, leaving me gasping.
The sun returns and continues its journey through the clouds, coloured brighter than before. And is it a bigger sun? I sweat, and wipe my brow. Blue fish trip the waves nearby me. I smile.
Returning to the masts, I slowly repeg the sails. I no longer feel terrified as I make my way down but yes, I have a different kind of fear. A wonderful, liberating fear, that pulls wisdom near and throws memories far. It is a fear that trembles and bows, feels reverence for The One and repaints everything else in perspective. I know He wants me to go where I’m going and stop looking back. It’s time to move on, move on.
Sailor What have I done? Where have I been? Who can say? I am a man lucky to be alive! I have given up, moved on. There is nothing in my holds, and my heart is yours. If I live, I live for you. And if I sail, I sail by grace.
From now on when I cry, it is only with the tears of a new born.