Clipping, Dead Calm, and the Wake.

Crates and ballast are being shifted about. We’ve been round a calendar of taunting breezes, headwinds, and what old, crusty sailers would call the doldrums. Waiting around in windless waters has driven men mad. You stay busy. You coil and re-coil the rope. You roll and re-roll the canvas. You bail and bail again… and you re-arrange the boxes. You find the odd item you’d lost in six feet square. You jettison the dead weight one keeps in the fantasy that it will be, one day, useful. You see the corner of something trivial then. Something that triggers an inexplicable tide of remembrance, the tip of a memorial ice berg.

I found a dusty chest of papers. I remembered the wedding of a man who was the first boy I’d ever known. I remember my sister struggling to finish her thesis at work. I recalled my dog dying. A dog who’d slept by me, wherever that was.. unless I wasn’t there, and he slept alone in the middle of the house, dividing his attention equally among the rest of my family. I wasn’t at the wedding. I was no moral support to the thesis. I wasn’t beside my dog as he passed. Nor, at the time, did I think I was meant to be.

I was in the galley. Yet, when I found my chest of clippings, I couldn’t really remember the details. Reading about them was satisfying, but the sort of satisfaction you feel for someone else. The memories that came were of the things I hadn’t done.

Here be the dogeared and yellowed dispatches of repute…

It doesn’t seem so impressive in the cold, hard lighting of hindsight. To elevate such a pursuit beyond friends, family, and my faithful companion, wafts of self-importance and foolishness. (I’m sorry if I happened to do the same to you). Through the lens of the love of the family that life later blessed me with, it was a flash in the pan. I’m OK with that. This time around I’ve had a prime crew to weather it out with.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Hi Bert,
    I think your writing is terrific and I’d like to connect with you about a story idea – a feature on Klecko, a 40+ year master bread baker from St. Paul, a 2020 Midwest Book Award winner for “Hitman-Baker-Casketmaker: Aftermath of an American’s Clash with ICE” and the author of a new book called “Lincolnland.”

    I’m his publisher/publicist Julie Pfitzinger. I can send you more information about him — he’s got a pretty big social media presence, so you can also check him out. It would be great if you’d consider doing a story on him for Mankato Magazine (there is a segment of “Lincolnland” based in Mankato, as well as other places throughout the Midwest.)

    I hope to hear from you!

    Julie Pfitzinger


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