Friday, September 4, 2015


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Back in the hospital, sober for seven days, drooping like the flag on a windless day. Out on a listless walk, sees below Geriatrics some birds, probably crows, harassing a squirrel. This is all very bleakly picturesque and vividly drawn. If drink is the windstorm that filled B.’s poetic sails, then the poet is becalmed today. When old square riggers would find themselves becalmed, the sea flat and still as glass, they would get out the launch, tie up a rope, and make some poor dumb bastard sailors row the ship forward. They were outdistanced by pulsating jellyfish, but it was better than nothing.

There’s a poem here, though. I was on a sailboat once—it happened to be in Europe, on Lake Balaton, in Hungary—and we ran out of wind on a still, cloudless, hot day, out in the middle of the lake, and we didn’t have any gas to start up the motor. No breeze to fill the sails, so there we sat, in the flat silvery green water. We swam a bit, talked, scanned the horizon. I figured I’d be down in the green water swimming with a rope in my teeth soon, since I couldn’t see any other option. Except the boat moved anyway. Because while there was no actual breeze, the air was still moving below the threshold of perception. A good sailboat, turns out, is incredibly sensitive. We ghosted into the marina, turned a corner, and almost magically, as if through force of the captain’s will, drifted into the slip. It was unbelievable. Hungarians aren’t supposed to be too much of a boating people, since the country, in all its incarnations and pulsating borders, has never had a saltwater shoreline. But this Hungarian knew the big lake, and he knew his boat, and he got us home without calling for a motorboat to putter out to the rescue. It was an amazing demonstration of sailing prowess, seemed to me.

The air is never dead, and while the flag may not brightly wave, and the water is flat as a window, a good sailor sometimes finds a way home. “Life, friends, is boring”—??? Not really. Life is never boring, but sometimes we get bored. The calmest day is filled with poetry if you’re sensitive and experienced enough to know the air currents. This is B.’s point.

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