Wednesday, September 09, 2009
A Cottage Home
The cutlass rain lashed the backs of men lashing down the sails. Captain blinked away the mist and burn, but the squall gnashed harder its glittering teeth.
Black, black weather. Chill as a nightmare in the eventide.
"Steady men!" Captain bellowed.
A monstrous swell, wild on its gale-combed mane, heaved against the gunwale.
Green water washed the deck. Buckets and the boatswain rolled in the foam.
The listing ship slowly righted. It tipped down the slope of the next swell.
Captain gazed over the watery valley to the next summit. He planted the rudder with waterlogged boots and salt-dried sinews sewn in his broad shoulders.
Last night, the full moon flew over red clouds. Rum swam in his eyes. Not tears. Not the acid sorrow. Not far too many years on the sea.
The world bent with the wind, and the first mate clung to rail. Rivulets ran from hair like tree roots. "How close are the shores of Ireland?" he shouted.
Captain coughed biting salt from his lips. "This wind will carry us."
The ship rose, mounting the swell.
"It wants to turn us!" the mate cried over the roar.
Captain shook his head. He would not be broached. Not in these malevolent seas.
He growled against the wheel and nosed the ship close to the wind.
The rudder chain snapped like a cannon shot. Captain threw himself with the spinning wheel. Sprawled in the slop, he saw the prow heave from the wave.
"We're broached!" the mate screamed.
But the water was warm. Too warm for the north seas. And the long, long day whispered sleep.
A crest hit them crippled broadside. Masts dipped to the horizon.
Captain gazed over the welcoming sea. Below, the rocks of Ireland's shoals waited.
As timbers splintered and a bed of sand prepared to receive him, Captain dreamed of a cottage hunkered on the moss green land. Somewhere a light would be burning.