the mast.

11/05/2011 § Leave a comment

At the middle of the ship it stands swaying.

Claw marks from the cat that scar the trunk and there are slithery paths of where snails slide. The canopy reaches over the rim of the roof providing view of the dock.

The base is littered with shrubbery and preened growth that began sprouting five years ago when this abandoned ship was commandeered. This ship that once harboured four families for a moment in post-colonial times. And now, this is where we live, at the base of the mast, tending its shrubbery, mending the scratch marks.


the ship that never sails.

27/04/2011 § Leave a comment

A breeze blows in from the deck as they hose ‘er down.

“She’s gonna be a beauty ov’a day, mates!”

I lay still on my bottom bunk beneath the green-blue flowered sheet that is my barrier against the thick, brown woolen blanket. The passenger who has been sleeping on the bunk above me is preparing to disembark, tearing the sheets from her flimsy mattress, causing the frame to rattle, waking me from a dream of a week’s journey across a desert. Perhaps watching Fear & Loathing the night before had swiveled into my subconscious.

I wonder what time it is and whether that matters.

I look across the room and see that C is still sleeping. She works on the mainland a few blocks from anchor, entertaining sailors from around the world. She is disciplined and highly moral, which does not stand as a contradiction because she can tell the intoxicated how to act right. C arrived on this ship a few months before I did from South Africa. She was looking for a vessel that could take her to the Football Cup Finals and here she has planned to stay until next winter.

The rest of the beds are empty and disheveled, blankets pulled to the foot of the mattresses as the passengers venture throughout the city we are presently docked at. I pull back my make-shift pashmina curtains and stretch my legs through the gap I have created. I sip some water. I get up to use the bathroom located at the stern, port-side. This is my favourite bathroom with black&white checkered tiles and a free-standing bathtub, one that reminds me of my parents’ apartment in the Beaches in Toronto.  It’s white and worn at the bottom and rocks when you stand in it.

After I use the washroom, I go to the kitchen to light a fire for my morning instant-coffee. One of the passengers is boiling vegetables:

“Good morning.”

Most of the people that come aboard are passengers wandering in-between rest stations. There are only five crew members, I being the newest crew member. Although the crew and passengers get along well, there is still a lasting dynamic. The passengers bond more quickly with each other, frequenting the city, often going out every night to the bars and all-night shows. The crew bonds tightly, rarely leaving the ship, eating meals together and watching our favourite movies. To the passengers, our lives appear boring but their curiosity to our style of living is not envious, but interested on whether they could do as we do.

“We have already seen the city,” we say. “We have been docked here for quite some time.” We say.

Most of the conversations between crew members is about our past or what we are interested in: football, music, literature, countries, cultures, our homes, our families and friends. We all miss our families and friends. Although we try to talk to the passengers with the same deepness, the passengers are aware of their transience, knowing not to let too much out and withholding much in.

“Remember him? Yeah, he was always talking about the movies he did and the wives he had. Always wandering around by day and making funny conversations about his girlfriend back home. The home he is not returning to. Wonder what he’s up to?”

Sometimes, there is a breakthrough. Those ones are hard to let go, but their stories we still talk about over a crew’s dinner:

“Remember that guy always playing guitar? He was really quiet…”

“No, no! He is in love with a girl in another continent but they can’t be together! He told me so.”

Each crew member on this ship has his or her own story, una historia, as they say in Spanish. A history and we all know that history is written by the victors. What we rarely recognize is that we are all victorious, so these are our stories.

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