Time on Water by Robert Gibbons

Everything is Marked

The massive, white, Europa, sailing back to Nassau out of Boston Harbor right next to Logan Airport exactly two weeks to the day after the Towers fell. Escorted starboard, port, stern & bow, by four Coast Guard boats armed with .6o caliber machine guns mounted on deck. A gray day accentuating its glacial size. It should have been an awesome sight. One of the boats sped up between our commuter ferry & the cruise ship making me realize that no other craft would get between her & her escorts, not even the Outward Bound kids in their launch. It should have been impressive. But then I looked up to the third deck of the luxury liner & saw pairs of terrycloth-robed passengers, two-by-two, each looking through mini-cams, recording the scene for folks back home.

I started to imagine what kind of narrative could accompany the sight of camouflaged soldiers (neighbors would never see the white terrycloth), (my friend David had written that morning of the million dead at Stalingrad), taped voices attempting to heighten the drama of their videos, forcing everyone back home to think that when they were here in Boston they were at the Front, in the War on Terrorism. Who could stomach the idea of being subjected to any of those home movies? Worse, why weren't more passengers out on the decks? Eating in the myriad of dining rooms.

Disembarking, I asked one of my fellow commuters, a mere acquaintance, “How are you?” His answer rang as hollow, & flat as my inquiry, so that I had to add, “Everything is marked by what happened two weeks ago today.”

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