Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fhear Maí

He arrived dockside aboard the Mary of Bullockships, the buoys out past the breakwater rushing the keel hurriedly, the captain spitting up gob in the deck below, the first coxswain manning the wheelhouse. Hauling in the bollard, the untied end lashing the sheeting, the second coxswain crawled under the deck with a monkey-wrench, his job to loosen the starboard rudder. ‘give it some slack!’ he shouted, the ship keeled to the right, the Hex bolt stripping his knuckles raw. His da, a galley cook on the Mary of Bullockships, sat under the captain’s poop shucking peas, the ocean salt liming his face. His da came from a long line of whaling Breen’s; his great-great grandfather a stoker on the Queen of Bullockships, his great grandfather a second mate on the Queen of Scots of Bullockships and his da’s da a coxswain on the Queenlier Queen Marie Henriette of Bullockships. Mackey Lacy, pining for his beloved ashore, recited a love poem evening, morn and night:

Tis youth and folly
Makes young men marry,
So here, my love, I'll
No longer stay,
What can't be cured, sure
Must be injured, sure
So'll go to
Amerikay.

My love she's handsome,
My love she's bony:
She's like good whisky
When it is new;
But when 'tis old
And growing cold
It fades and dies like
The mountain dew.

(James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, A Portrait of an Artist)

Mackey Lacy kept Ditty Bag full of books stowed under his hammock, each volume to be read according to the reading on the Schöner star-taker: botany when the wind blew leeward, poetry when it blew portside and philology when it blew over the starboard bowsprit. His da never did feel much for Mackey, considering him a man of uneven temper and low moral principles. He kept his distance, staying below when Lacy was topside and hiding in the galley when he was below, ever-mindful that Lacy was easily angered and could knock a man out cold with one punch. Mary of Bullockships set sail for the Blackwater Mainistir at Fhear Maí, the second mate doubled over with brontophobia, the foresail gagging on saltwater and rum. ‘release the bilge trap’ yelled the first mate, the sea head lashing the starboard elm.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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