Sunday, October 11, 2015

Burial for Seamen

by Tom Sheehan

Tonight I think of Jonathan Diggs and how he salts the Atlantic, how the horse of his voice shakes the water from the underneath, cracks the rocks the small fist of Nahant left-jabs in the ocean.

The dory came riding in high and free as a cracker box, the oars gone, locks ripped away as if he had broken all his muscles on them, the anchor gone as Davy’s gift, not even a handful of line left in the loop.

One inconspicuous mark gathered in the final counting: JD9. It was Jonathan’s ninth boat, and the first to outlive him, the first to come back without that oarsman.

Seventy-year old men do not swim all night, do not ride on top like debris caught on the incoming tide, do not materialize on-shore once they are that wet.

They go down like Jonathan Diggs, shaking their fists at the Atlantic, shouting the final obscenity they have waited all this time to use, knowing the exact moment to employ it. They send a sound running along water lines, burst it into sea shells, sing it as a tone of surf busting all September nights when ocean listeners count for sailors.

They become the watery magnet pulling men from inland fields, in turn are magnetized by moon’s deep clutch on the rich pastures of the sea, and sleep then only in tight caves, soundless and dark in their wearing away.

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