One Captain

Fishing vessels enter and leave the harbour almost like clockwork. Six out of the seven days of each week, they face their broad noses out to sea. Each time, the captain fearing, on approach of a dark horizon, maybe I won’t come back. And then the reassurance that being suspended in limbo might not be so different.
He doesn’t live much, except between abrupt edges of boxes and the cool breeze of a cigarette on a sunny day. He’ll never smoke inside, though, and never on deck.
He picks up his toothbrush in his tan fingers and tolls the thing around the crevices in his palm. He’ll then shove the minty thing around in his jaw until he feels clean enough. There are days when he is sure there cannot be any scum left in his mouth, other days, he is unsure why he bothers.
This captain doesn’t eat fish. He’s seen too many beady eyes unplunged from their life. It used to be that he could picture Jesus saying to him ‘Lower the nets, now, my dear Captain. Trust me, you will reap a great many fish.’ And he’d stand in awe at what colors magnified in the oily scales, half thankful for the income. But like shells and rocks from the ocean floor, they lose lustre when dried. He doesn’t correlate out of the sea with death, because if you go back tomorrow, more glittering rocks have rolled in.
At sea, the captain loses his worries. He is where he stands. The little rooms comfort him for a while, and then he can reach his fingers into infinity. The sky pulls him up and forwards and he understands. It’s the same color in a fish’s eye. He believes the fish is part of eternity. Mindnumb. Accepting. A god. A part of God. A drop in the bucket of God. And some days, he’ll imagine his eyes, too, are the colors of fish. The more he thinks, the better the salt spray feels on his skin, waking his senses, cementing his pores into a solid thing. That’s when he knows he’s in control of his body. Then he and his crew will stomp port and starboard turning on machines and moving and hauling and forgetting to hear the sounds their work makes.


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