Nautical Miles…

Unidentified_tall_ship_near_Cape_Horn_-_Nla.pic-vn3299637-v

Water…

I think maybe it saved my life….

Or maybe it was my life…

Or maybe it ended it….

I think I’ve been around the Horn
at least once …

Brief images of standing on deck
watching snow flurries dance
down from the grey sky to land
on the boards

but they don’t melt away
And the rigging and the hawsers
are blocks of ice

We’ve been trying to
get the canvas stowed
But our fingers won’t work
takes all our strength to
climb into the yards

There’s been a 30 knot
steady wind in my face
for the last few hours
and my beard feels like wires
The gale’s icy fingers snake down through
what clothes I could bundle around Me

I can’t feel my feet anymore
it’s like I’m walking around
on wooden stumps
every step on the deck is
a precarious journey

The pitch and roll of the brine
tips us up on end
I slid against the rail hard
knocking the wind from
my lungs
as I’m laid out flat

We take a massive whitecap
abeam
The ship lists so hard
the mainmast almost dips
below the horizon

lifelines are our only
hope
As the keel rights us topside
men are flung from the yards
like apples from a tree
in a hurricane

We can see the wave coming
7 stories tall and baring down
on our port side
The captain screams for help
as He tries to turn the wheel
The helm is frozen solid

I throw my back into it
As we try to break it free
We have to turn Her bow into the wave…
but with the canvas down
and the rigging frozen
She answers too slowly

I remember the blue-green shadow
of the wall of water
on the deck boards
and then the hand of Oceanus
Sweeping Me from my feet

My arms and legs are on fire
every part of my body is
instantly burned by the
frozen water around me

Between the troughs of the
waves
I can see the hull of the ship
and Her keel is pointed at the sky

I try to take air into my lungs
but my body won’t respond
my breath comes
in rapid, stuttering, gasps
as the salt crisps upon my face

My final memory
as the water closes over my head
is how I will never get to see
the topaz expanse of the Islands
and feel my feet
buried in the black Tahitian Sand
ever again…

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About Eric

Writer/Plumber/Poet/Father/Gentleman/Romantic
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39 Responses to Nautical Miles…

  1. Purpleanais says:

    I have a fear of deep water and drowning, this did nothing to alleviate it πŸ˜‰

  2. rachel says:

    this is haunting. a glimpse into your past life. i love it!

  3. Rita says:

    This is so good, Eric.

  4. Mr Modigliani says:

    A great write Eric. Is there something that inspired this?

    • Eric says:

      Thanks, MM. It’s a reoccurring thought that I have from time to time. Maybe even described as a memory? I don’t know. But I’ve always felt a deep connection and healthy respect for the power of the Ocean. Or course living in Louisiana could be the cause for that…every year we are acutely aware of just how tiny we are in the eyes of mother nature.

      • Mr Modigliani says:

        I live about a thousand miles straight up the Mississippi from you and had thoughts of the Edmund Fitzgerald

        • Eric says:

          Its funny you should mention that song. Rita and I were talking about it just the other day. I suppose that could be part of the inspiration for this as well.

          • Mr Modigliani says:

            If your mind is like mine, then there is this creative synthesis of inputs at a subconscious level

            • Eric says:

              I absolutely believe that is true for me. Like my current WIP, I can understand why I am enjoying doing it..and when I post it I’m sure everyone would identify it as something they would expect me to write…but what gave the initial spark is a mystery. Have a great day, MM, it’s been a pleasure!

  5. Loved that last scene: your feet buried in the black Tahitian sand…
    Jackie69

  6. Man, now I’m nearly shivering from the cold winds and waves. Great crafting of atmosphere in this poem — you really set a vivid scene. And I’m dreaming of my feet in black Tahitian sands.

  7. Elizabeth Helmich says:

    That just made chills wash over my whole body. Excellent Eric, the descriptives here made me that man. Terrifying.

    • Eric says:

      I’ve read a lot of nautical history during the 1700 to 1800s. Traversing Cape Horn was absolutely terrifying back then. So many men lost their lives doing it. It’s still pretty scary today to do it by ship!

      Thank you for being here, Elizabeth. β™‘

  8. VictoryInTrouble says:

    Oh my god, Eric. Wow. This is excellent and chilling and so vivid. I doubt I’ll ever go on another boat again, but wow! (j/k about the boat) πŸ˜€

  9. sirenlost says:

    The overwhelming power of the Sea. You capture it so beautifully!!!

  10. aishwarya148 says:

    This is brilliant. Sometimes after reading your stuff I wish I could write so well…as poignant and as beautiful…

  11. moonskittles says:

    Master of the verse and Commander of imagery! Haunting but with depth that are inviting. Only you can write like this! Loved it Eric! πŸ™‚

  12. Love this. So many powerful images. Like the salt crisps… Beautiful and terrifying. Very well done.

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