The voyage

William Blake waxes lyrical

I took my sail down to the shore today. I rigged it to my make-shift mast and launched my craft, such as it is, upon the sea of plenty. Many sails I saw, adrift on the tide, or tacking hard in the salt-licking, ancient winds. Many fish and birds I saw, and I chanced upon the moment of a whale's spout, sure that it was meant as an honour for myself alone. The sun... my sun, shone benevolently and freely, and it was not long before the unspoken joy of living rough upon the cresting waves brought long-forgotten goose bumps to bristling arms.

My boat is older now than before. And has seen more days than oceans. It is no longer crisp and new, nor agile and spright. It has character now. Where once was taught white rope on cleats, there is now the fraying and mellowing colours of a true sea-faring vessel. A vessel well used. And well-used to its course. I sometimes wonder what will become of it when my sailing days are at an end.

Where do old boats go? Are they scuttled? Burnt? Buried? Turned to museum pieces? What end would they choose? I know mine would choose to be buried at sea. The final resting place of so many heroes: Of legends with names like Titanic and Bounty, Cutty Sark and Thermopylae. Of Captains who went down with their ships. The home of Poseidon, Davy Jones, and countless Mermaids. The fount of all life.

And what of my sail? Will it serve as a reminder? Will I need it? What happens if it has tears and rips, and no longer shapes the wind? Will it suit the next boat? Or the next? Will it even last through these rough and windswept voyages, as I navigate through the squalls, cutting the brackish waters of my days into spray?

But there are many seas yet to sail. And the memories and the tales will make for the salt and the vinegar and the news wrap on the fish, on some mooncloud night when the lighthouse beam and the phosphorous breakers bow and curtsy, and the sea offers her comfort.


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