About Me

A slightly over-educated sailor sharing the wet and dry sides of his life.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Mediterranean and Passing Italy

Saturday, June 20, 2009
1:49 AM
Entering the Mediterranean Ocean.
So we transited the Straits of Gibraltar Thursday night. Yes, yes, that was two nights ago. Technically, that was yesterday night. Don't forget: I'm writing when I get off of watch, so, though it's the next day, the reference point is actually the day before. In other words, that was only yesterday. Right? Welcome to the world of sailing through time zones.

We're in the Med. Too bad it isn't as glamorous as it seems. We're just passing through. As soon as we cleared Gibraltar, visibility closed in to a hair over a mile. We hate fog so much, we refer to it as the "F-word." Even 3rd Mate Wes called it low clouds. Nice euphemism.

Sunday, June 21, 2009
12:40 AM
The Straits of Sicily
At the end of watch, we cleared the Straits of Sicily. Twelve hours before, we were just starting in. During my lunch hour, I emailed my friend, Lisa Osse. She and her husband, Jim, are in Lerici, Italy. He works in La Spezia. They just moved there last month from Seattle for his job. Some people are so lucky!

It's so strange passing by them in this manner, knowing I have friends from home in this part of the world. This creates an odd intimacy, a lessening of abstraction, with this part of Europe. Though the nautical chart we use for these waters only shows the very southern belly of Sicily, my mind imagines what lies further to the north. Do visit their blog at ossesinitaly.blogspot.com. I'll be checking up on them when the ship reaches Singapore. I want to see more of the little harbor of Lerici! Here's a poem.

While Sailing Past Sicily
--for Jim and Lisa

The ship's engine thrums
With a heart pulse
As we steam
Into the western reach
Of the Strait of Sicily.
To the north is the rest of Italy.

From Gibraltar to Sicily,
The Mediterranean Ocean
Is not blue:
The air is something between
low clouds and fog.
The sea is gray.
Visibility barely more than a mile.

The roiling cloud tops
Seem just outside of reach,
But there is blue sky above.
The ridge tops of the Atlas Mountains
Break the airy meniscus to the south
Like the great toothed whale
Folding itself
Into a hunger-driven
Deep sounding,
Forehead pointed
Downward, listening
For the echoes of its own desire.

The nautical chart shows only
The southern belly of Sicily.
But I can't help but think
Of two friends,
Recently transplanted,
Far to the north in Lerici.

I imagine their small harbor,
The tiny sand-patch of a beach
Crowded with boats,
The sea reflecting a blue sky.

My friends will learn
From the fisher people
A simple art of leisure
That can't be found
Where we come from.

Their mornings will reveal
How the fishermen move
Through blue morning air,
Down the cobblestone streets,
Down to the harbor,
Hauling their boats down
To fish the Ligurian Sea.

Their afternoons will offer
The riddle of townspeople
Whiling away hours that lean
Into the setting sun, of a hand
Hooked inside an elbow,
And a head leaning into
The shoulder of a loved one.

And the evening piazzas
Will fill their ears with liquid
Voices rising like a tide,
Of friends chatting with friends,
Of families out for a late stroll,
Of silverware and wine glasses chiming
Through this polyphony of life.

And before it is all over,
They will find time
More valuable than money.
They will discover
That lovely space found
Inside a crowded piazza.
And they will hold the gift
That is blue sadness,
That is blue joy,
That is blue wonder.
That is blue awe.

(Written June 21 & 22, 2009)

Ciao, Peeps!

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