EKLEKTIKOS - A Dream
23 August 2008
SHE WOULD LIE THERE, in the early morning air, or perhaps in the late afternoon light with little wavelets lapping her sides, masts like dancers, furled sails bursting like popcorn, everything ready; a ship that had her inside and her outside and both were one! And the days passed at anchor, and all the while she changed.
The little ship was changing into a seagoing vessel; every morning her skipper sharpened her bow a little finer and coiled her ropes, ironed the jib, watered the kelp growing out of the portholes, whittled the t'gallants and ordered new belaying pins. And every night in the saloon, by soft brassy glow of the flapping flames in the gimballed lamps he copied with steel nib old charts of the Indian Ocean New Hebrides Coral Sea Solomon Islands Arafura Sea and the Cape of Good Hope - cabin door cracked open to let in the ships cat, Octopus. And when he had finished drawing the outlines of the coasts and the ink had dried, he then lovingly painted the sea blue (a strong ultramarine blue it was and not in flat washes as you will see in all other charts - this giving a false impression) but with every wave represented, the movement of the seas repeated, over, and over (but no two waves the same however), and the waves saying - all is well, all is well, all is well.
And before turning in for the night he would take a turn around the deck or climb down into the dinghy and row off from the ship the better to see her, stars jammed in her rigging, hull made of dark water as he phosphoresced and paddled. And he took pleasure first in her details then in her beauty and finally simply in her existence. He would soon be asleep; but the sea always slept, sometimes having nightmares: thrashing, wild, incoherent (dreaming at these times of fearsome things) and sometimes (as at night, in the anchorage) it merely breathed, and slept, side by side with the ship.
Back on board with the dinghy secure, he would try the anchor: straddling the bowsprit, tugging on the whole length of chain; now seeing its deep phosphorescent catenary! Oh! Anchor rimmed with undersea moonlight! And now descending the main companion ladder he would make his way forward, to his son's cabin, where the golden light shone gently under the cabin door; as the beautiful boy - unseen to him, of course - lay on his bunk reading a sea adventure by Jack London or Conrad. The skipper could just make out the deep purr of Octopus, unctuous and rhythmic, coming through the louvres; she must be on the bunk with the boy, probably holding open the pages for him to read, with her paws, as usual.
It only remained for him now, to complete the day, to make his way aft, recondition the engine, swab down the galley, make a brief, routine radio contact with London and then write up the log - and brush his teeth. Then the moon would do duty and stand watch on deck, for he was tired from his labours.
Every morning the skipper would take the ship apart, literally, and lay each plank down in order, after numbering it and signing it; and the anchor rinsed and hung up to dry. No labour was too wearying or too time-consuming for him since his life began all over again each day. Others would do exactly the same in going to the office, piling their days on the same midden-heap (because that is what they loved to do, and a person should do what they loved). And then with infinite patience, swearing gently under his breath, he would reconstruct her, taking liberties with the design if intuition beckoned, or taking bold creative leaps if his memory suddenly went blank: and there was never any fear in him that he might unwittingly rebuild her back-to-front or inside-out or paint her the wrong colour, or anything like that, because of the chromosomal and ineradicable bent (that was the best way he could put it) - the genetico-metaphysico-biologic to it - which made it certain that the ship always came out the same, or, if not, then it was impossible to refute (on the memory of her earlier shipselves) the presence of the latest model, due to the awesome beauty of her realself.
And thus Eklektikos became Eklektikos became Eklektikos.
Joe Blake copyright 1995