Tuesday, 30 September 2008

In the black boat

Sheltered form the wind that cut in at the side of her eye, she huddled in the upended boat. And as the high tide ran close, leaping onto the white lashed shore, her mind wandered into the patterns of slats and curves of this boat and listened to the stories it had to tell. 

Like a flood tide under a low and heavy moon, the stories flowed out and under and in between each other. They told of fine wood being shaped and made ready for a lifetime at sea, of calico sails eager to snatch and catch every breath of wind, stitched at a fireside by rough and quick hands. Years of fishing, in calm golden seas, in fuming maelstrom, in times of hunger and times of smiling overflowing plenty, eating and trading, all these things were told with quiet pride of this ancient livelihood and the community around it and within it and behind it.  

And as the rain fell in heavy through a ragged crack, the boat reminded her of times when crews were lost and boats never found in the ruthless fury of a pursuing storm that swallowed all in it's path and spat nothing back, of wood that was smashed open and boats like this one, thrown back onto the beach, and recovered empty by men who dragged her up the shore and decided on a blue tearful morning, not to mend. Now it knew only the cruel hands of onshore weather that planed it's church-like black paint into lined grey, then bare brown, then bleached bone white. And it listened, collecting the daydreams of tourists who now sat in this old boat made into a seat.