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.


JR's Thumbprints said...

"...a bed of sand prepared to receive him"

This can't be good. Perhaps a bed of seaweed as well.

the walking man said...

having been at sea in those conditions I am glad it was under power and not sail.

You've done it again Jason. Using few words transported me to places that are but far off memory.

Shadow said...

at the mercy of the sea... your words transformed to images!

Aniket Thakkar said...

This was a very visual piece Jason and I loved every bit of it.

The captain reminded me of 'The Ancient Mariner'. I too hope that 'Somewhere a light would be burning'

Thank you for this!

Jean said...

How sad. He desperately wanted to get home to the one who kept the light burning.

I found myself swept away by your imagery. Very nicely done.

Monkey Mama said...

I especially like the contrast between the violent sea at the beginning, and the quiet at the end. Ditto the comments about the imagery. Very nice.


PixieDust said...

When I woke up this morning wit the sun shining bright, the last thing I expected was to get caught up in a harrowing, sea adventure; yet, with your incredible writing I was on that boat clinging for dear life.



Bebo said...

This one leaves a chill on my skin & a tear in my eye.

Well done, laddie.

Karen said...

I was there with them. Every second. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

JR, tucked in with some seaweed might be nice.

Walking Man, I very much appreciate that feedback. To know I achieved some of the feelings that you experienced is a great thing.

Shadow, mercy indeed.... But in this case the sea does not have mercy.

Aniket, I have to think that somewhere a light *is* burning. Just keep a look out for it. :)

Jean, thank you. :) Yes, someone lit that light for him.

Chris (aka Monkey Mama), I wanted some tension against the drama of the storm. I liked the thought that in the captain's mind, there was a strange calm.

PixieDust, your comment made me smile. :) An adventurous day indeed! Thank you for the kind words.

Bebo, that's a precious tear. Thank you.

Karen, I'm glad the experience was potent!

Mona said...

The fury of the storm personified in the first stanza is commendable.

Overall visual imagery is good

High marks for pacing!


Anonymous said...

Mona, that feedback sounds familiar! If you choose to run your own contest, you'll be all set.

Vesper said...

I could feel the salt on my lips and the swaying of the sea under my feet... I love the sea, Jason, and sea stories. The sea is merciless, but you were a master of this story.

Anonymous said...

Vesper, salt spray and the dance of waves...I'm with you. :)