The Port

Below the balcony is a ship. It was Sunday; we watched from the window to the harbor behind us, hazily. We learned quickly that ports make the same sounds in darkness as in daylight, each morning turned into a fine cloth. Bill next door says in two months we’ll be like babies again but I see us like babies and the way we would shriek with the noise, our fat bodies in bed and mouths open. I don’t think Bill has children.  

It was a fine Sunday. A bright sun. Machines stroll by. 


God had said to build a whale which had taken us to the port this Sunday and all the rest, for the time. The still small voice spoke between us like a current, ours between us. Most men are looking for a burden— a thing to hold on their shoulders solitary—but this was ours. Nothing to carry. We’ll make what we can.

There is an impulse at first to find a plot of land to own: green grass, solid ground. What we needed, though, was water, something you don’t own like any other thing. The rented deck of the port became a place to hold, a few slabs of wood to act righteously. We began the process of collecting—sheets of rubber and limbs to shape and paddles for forms— and built a slow pile in our home. At night we learned to sleep in the farthest corner of the room, the only place we still could move against each other but stay away from the sounds outside and from everything we were beginning to own inside. 

The light grows shorter, and each day we make it back in darkness having been made smaller by hours in water. Toward the back of our home we regrow: arms curled with the opening of the door, then stretched and lengthened to the only corner that we can still say is ours. We are longest at night. 


In months it was done. A creature built, skin and spine and cells, resting heavy on the water. A covenant completed before the open ocean with our only hands. In the early dawn we bring the shears to the deck to make the release and break the ropes that held all we had built. He takes them in his hands, brings the muscles downward with the movement of nothing that has ever been. Unlike a crash or flood there is no sound; silently it drops below the water, below the light to nothing. No movement but our own. As we stand the world stays still, barely warm, but it is everything all at once. 

We were a prism.  


He stands on the dock at night, our home empty and the water empty and no further words. Everything has faded and nothing has returned, and I feel what it is to have nothing to say or do or make. As near as I can I am behind him. 

Lay your bones down, baby. There are always plans to be made. 


  1. Posted August 18, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    please make more

    Fatal error: Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function ereg() in /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-content/themes/book/functions.php:273 Stack trace: #0 /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-content/themes/book/comments.php(43): sandbox_commenter_link() #1 /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-includes/comment-template.php(1428): require('/srv/www/wordpr...') #2 /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-content/themes/book/single.php(24): comments_template() #3 /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-includes/template-loader.php(75): include('/srv/www/wordpr...') #4 /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-blog-header.php(19): require_once('/srv/www/wordpr...') #5 /srv/www/wordpress-default/index.php(17): require('/srv/www/wordpr...') #6 {main} thrown in /srv/www/wordpress-default/wp-content/themes/book/functions.php on line 273