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Time on Water by Robert Gibbons




Time Ahead


Could one write it in the dark? Although I've done it, that's the question I asked when I got home, when she wasn't there yet, in the light. What I wanted to jot down quickly, without bothering to add anything more than what shown through windows, was the route the commuter ferry took outside Spectacle Island, which it rarely makes. (She's just come in in the dark, which spurs me on, dark dispersing through, no new light, but her Soul's, or body's, or both, are one?) Outside, in open water, we were no longer sheltered from onshore winds by these two hills built up in recent years by soil dug from Boston tunnel work. To that extent, “Spectacle,” as Bill pointed out this morning, appearing to English settlers as a pair of eyeglasses, could now change its name, thanks to what these wonderfully industrious engineers, truck drivers, & laborers have done, (Charles Olson referred to it as the ability to “properly heap up,”) to “The Mammaries.” There, at the undulation of the two mounds, we passed the tanker we surely would have missed if we'd taken the normal course. Huge, blue & white, carrying DANGEROUS CARGO, the NordeEuropa out of Helsingor. I've been to Elsinore, & I know what men want. I saw three crewmen there on the outer deck, braving the 30-knot northeast wind. But for these Vikings in sunglasses this was tropical, considering the time it takes to get from Denmark to Massachusetts, all the waves between. (You wouldn't believe how dark it's getting in here. She's preparing dinner in the dark, since I told her that is part of what this is about.) The joy on those men's faces. Port imminent. I wondered as we paralleled their path in the opposite direction what time is like now with land visible, after so long at sea with no reference point other than the abstractions of navigation, or stars too distant to be other than further abstractions? My guess is time changed. Imminence of land, of material, of the concrete, the feminine, sped things up, to the point that time, connected to sense, & against the too-long days traveled before, lay ahead for sailors with enigmatic smiles, to plunder.


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