“It’s all your fault,” my friend said, “that’s what you don’t understand!” And I did not understand, I still do not. Neither have I understood the anger whose focus I had become, nor the ferocity that now confronted me. In an instant, my conceptions of a stable and close friendship lay in shambles.
It had all started so promisingly a few, short years ago. At the time, it had seemed as though our friendship would sail along like a beautiful ship on a prosperous voyage across calm oceans, wafted along by fair winds, driven by following seas.
The Splendid Ship
On golden shores we stood, watched wistfully
the ship that rode at anchor in the bay.
Two strangers, yet we sang in harmony:
‘The ship’s named Friendship; we should sail today!’
The splendid craft had long attracted me,
all awash in the midday sun’s bright light.
A shapely ship as you could ever see,
her masts stood tall, her sails the purest white.
In my imagination, we would sail
so full of bliss, on no-one we’d depend,
would weather ev’ry storm, would ride the gale!
Delight suffused my heart: what fitting friend!
My mate’s furrow’d brow, I did not pay heed,
too glad felt I then: hubris, my misdeed.
The Blessed Voyage
We cast off, set her sails, our ship unmoored,
the safe confines of solid land astern.
My post I took behind the wheel, assured:
those skills unknown we would but quickly learn.
The course was laid by my new friend, our guide,
who stood at fo’c’sle’s for’ard vantage post.
Abaft, as helmsman, steering right I tried:
I might have missed some turns, yet still made most.
Our voyage felt so blest with sun and breeze,
we progress’d swiftly during prosp’rous days.
Enjoyment, laughter, all content, at ease:
hurrah, to Friendship’s wondrous noble grace.
How could I know that these good times won’t last,
that calm and steady seas would soon be past.
The World of Triton
Across the crystal plane she smoothly glode,
as wings her pristine wind-filled sails unfurled.
Beneath the surface, Triton’s own abode
revealed itself, a strange and busy world.
Anemone of nearly ev’ry hue,
among them fish performed a playful dance;
the dolphin leapt to pay Apollon’s due,
as I was mesmerized as though in trance.
Terror abruptly gripped and froze my heart,
the sight of wrecks so shocking to behold.
Sunck vessels ev’rywhere, hulls torn apart.
Distressed, I called my friend who sternly told:
‘It’s all the helmsmen’s fault, had they been brave,
those ships would not have gone to their wet grave.’
A Rage-Filled Cry
With keen resolve I held the vessel’s wheel,
intent to steer the course as we had planned,
to keep some fathoms ‘tween the ground and keel,
to prove the post of helmsman bravely manned.
Afore, my mate stood gazing, lost in thought
of troublous matters, tense, with hardened mien.
‘What worries you, companion dear?’, I sought
to ease the strain, ‘as friends let us convene!’
My mate’s reply came as a rage-filled cry:
‘Unfit are you as helmsman, lack in skill
just like the others; hard as you may try,
can’t meet my needs; your empathy is nil!’
It followed ghostly quiet, foreboding dark,
unease and grief that left their ugly mark.
Aeolus’ Cruel Caprice
Calm tension spread its shroud across the sea,
announcing forces yearning for release.
Dejection’s doleful drag drowned ev’ry plea
to yet be spared Aeolus’ cruel caprice.
The tempest broke with Triton’s trumpet’s blare
and let begin the ship’s choreic dance.
Like nature’s forces fierce the hostile glare
that through the rain and spray now met my glance.
The clash of waves beset the vessel’s hull,
the crash of thunder stamp’d out subtle sounds,
the lash of spindrift left the senses dull:
I’ll lose the craft lest fortitude abounds!
Alone, that’s not enough, my mate must aid
in this attempt, else she will quickly fade.
Howls of Storm Itself
To my mate’s goodly senses I appealed:
‘Let’s right this ship together, my good friend,
let’s ride the wind — our craft is still well-keeled!
We must but tack and will be on the mend.’
The answer hurled across as thund’rous blows:
’This spot we’re in, this chaos, all this pain,
the fault’s not mine, it’s you who caused these woes!
What you deserve from me is but disdain!’
The words were violent howls of Storm itself,
its god’s incarnate earthly form: my mate!
Engulfed in sheets of rain dissolved the self,
became the squall that never may abate.
Perhaps my friend was swept just by the board,
yet I believe I saw the tempest’s lord.
The Lord of Storms
The Lord of Storms is my friend’s name,
akin to angry gods of ancient times,
whose boundless rage one can not eas’ly tame:
All slights they feel, perceived like heinous crimes.
In fact, Poseidon’s child my friend may be,
anointed with his temper all untamed:
An avatar of creatures from the sea,
capricious, stern, the trident squarely aimed.
But deep behind that savage rage conceal’d
you’ll find so dismal, sad and old a hurt
that steadfast Friendship mustn’t to scorn yet yield,
nor e’er let hate destroy a fragile heart.
Alas, no sacrifice that might appease
this vengeful Lord of Storms and Raging Seas.
The Ragged Boat
No sacrifice could soothe nor ease the pain,
no word could quench that narcissistic wrath,
each gesture of appeasement stayed in vain,
as storm and thunderbolt still mar the path.
A lightning strike has split apart the mast,
the wind has torn the canvas all asund’r.
I fear she’ll flounder, pray she may yet last,
a better man might stop her going und’r.
I still will try to keep her sailing on,
alone, this beaten, leaky, ragged boat,
although for me all hope is lost and gone:
This hulk needs two to sail, to stay afloat.
There’s no-one now to save the ship but me,
resigned she seems to perish here at sea.
Picture attribution: Pixabay
Post scriptum: Thank you for bearing with me! Just needed to get this out of my system. I can only recommend re-hashing some overly dramatic cliches and forcing them into the strict confines of iambic pentameter, an abab cdcd efef gg rhyme scheme and a plodding rhythm. I will be back to the usual mundane travel stories in a bit! The plan for Portugal is still on.