A true sea story of affliction, affection, and unexpected pleasures in coming of age. Occlusion chronicles the high drama of emotional and oceanic storms that cloud vision, turn reason fickle and leave hope, a father’s fondness, a boy’s wonder and a young woman’s sexuality, transformed.
7/8 lat: 78” 39’ long: 58”46’
Winds: E, NE
Skies: clear, blue
Lela is below.
If I squint my eyes I can imagine we are sailing through the Hudson Bay, in sight of Frobush point, hoping, for the first time, to make the Northwest Passage.
We have begun the adventure I have dreamed about since I was a child, since I could say the words, for three years, at least, since we bought the good ship Odysseus.
Lela is beautiful. She is as lovely as any woman I have ever known. She is a human with the natural proportion and elegant line of this ship.
Being with her makes me feel mature. Though much is uncertain, she is wise and makes me think I can be too.
Though I do not confess, I am often without direction, she is knowledgable and leaves me reassured I may be too.
It is hard to be with her though and not cognizant of her focus, her determination to do so much, to accomplish such lofty goals, to be gone for so long, so soon.
I wonder if this is too much of a liberty, too inappropriate and unlawful a taking to write such personal thought in a ships log ,the gratuitous sharing of such intimacies of one woman with the heart of another. I am compelled to speak but is this a betrayal of my fair lady, Odysseus.
I wonder if one must really be a Captain to take such a command, to execute choices, to venture new lands or if, perhaps, being a Captain is just a state of mind.
I wonder if this will all feel different when Odysseus has left the safe and predictable confines of dry-dock.
‘In the beginning,’ Claude remembered,’ it was scarcely noticeable.’
‘Like a friend’s tic , a small twitch,’ he thought,’ the mannerisms most people don’t reckon until you’re with someone for a while, there was no way to know when it was going to happen, how or with whom.’
One time, Claude was about to speak with Lela. He was thinking how close they were to some understanding, an agreement determining how they would proceed with their lives. Before he spoke aloud, she said, “You know, Claude, I’ve been thinking.”
Lela looked at him as if they were in the middle of a conversation they had begun long ago, some time before.
“I think we ought to have a baby.”
She looked at him as if there was nothing novel or extraordinary about such a revelation.
They had spoken of this undertaking more than once, more than a few times. but always resolved there was really was no answer now, no simple resolution for such a complex question and all the issues that followed.
“You won’t believe this”, Claude answered, smiling, but looking at her now,” I was just going to say that.”
She smiled too, but didn’t really know what he meant, the simple, literal truth of his meaning, the exact words that in fact he was going to say but, for some quixotic reason, didn’t.
They left the day.
They carried on and played, going about their business and continuing on, but there was a nagging and inarticulate uncertainty, a wonderment in Claude’s head .
‘Was there really anything to this mysticism,’ he thought, ‘this craziness saying people could read the thoughts of another. perceive the truth of history, know events before they happened.’ ‘Whatever it was.’ he concluded, ‘maybe I am possessed,’
‘But is that good or bad,’ Claude asked himself, knowing whatever it was, it wasn’t a quality the rest of humanity shared, knowing, at the bottom, it would only further estrange him from the succor others seemed to find in sameness.
Days later, an evening of friends gotten together, they were in the living room, speaking, telling stories, drinking wine. They laughed about the vagaries of populating the earth, what it did to the lives of others. When it happened, how lives, acts and thoughts of even strangers collided, intersected.
Claude, speaking with a class mate, thought to ask her plans for the upcoming summer.
As she spoke and her eyes glistened, he imagined a girl who had come from or was about to commence a journey to sea, to the translucent emerald waters of the Greek isles.
When she said, “You know Claude, I think I’m going to Greece for a month.”, he felt the same slack jawed, uncertain wonderment of being there or being somewhere before time and chaos had organized fortune and the future into the elements of an event.
“Its something I’ve wanted to do for years and there is a chance now, I think, which I might not get for a little while again.
“Celia,” Claude said,” You won’t believe this but I was just going to say that.”
Celia looked at him without understanding and continued on.
“I mean don’t you think it would be cool. Have you ever been there.”
Claude watched her speak and smiled. He laughed quietly marvelling at how curious life was, how paradox lived everywhere.
The gathering concluded, guests took their good-byes, Claude shook hands, said goodnight, nodded sleepily to the deportees but thought all the while,’ I can’t wait to get in to bed with Lela.’
“You know,” he confessed as they finished their ablutions, stripped off their cloths and raced to get under the cool drawn sheets,” I just can’t speak anymore.”
“I don’t know,” Claude confessed,” I just don’t know how it all works.”
Lela curled next to him, her head snugged into the crook of his shoulder.
While the words of the evening repeated themselves over and again, while Claude played and replayed the conversations trying to see if he’d heard anything he hadn’t already known, he grew increasingly bewildered, anxious.
Less certain he had heard words he hadn’t already figured or whose meaning, by the look of the speakers eye or language of their body, he already knew, he wondered what was presience or forwarning, insight from a sixth and unnatural sense.
He pulled the gently sleeping Lela into him.
He pulled her warm and gently breathing body to his own trying to feel the life between them, the difference between himself and her.
He traced the outline of her skin and tummy seeing with his hand, feeling with his senses, where she began, where he ended.
He knew, incohately, he lacked integrity. He did not have the certainty that somehow he hadn’t come confused with the rest of the world, that like leaves in an old forest, he wouldn’t join the detritus of the forest floor and, as ashes turn to ashes, he would become indistinguishable and turn, inevitably and like everything, to dust.
7/8 Malard’s Bay Lat 78’39 Lon 58’46
Winds W, SW, Barometer falling, Seas Calm
Varnishing rail, le’ward poop.
Odysseus lat:78’39 long:58’46
7/10 winds W, SW. calm
There is weather coming off the ocean. I have been working here every chance I get. This ship is more and more like home. It is hard to know sometimes what I have done, what is still undone what is the right thing next to do. Wood and tools, sand paper and glue, varnish and paint, it all seems so simple, done a thousand times since the dawn of man, but somehow still the most majestic act, the loftiest undertaking I can imagine. Strangers who come upon her, see the changes, have a glimmer of how she looked when first she sat bedraggled and unclaimed in her stanchions, maybe like me when Lela and I first met.
Each, the girl I knew, her sleepy child, and this ship, babes whose interests and needs command my attention grow increasingly, like seeds.
In a peculier way I am so proud to have this ship a child like the one Lela will someday bear.
I am proud to have a child to nurse and grow, to nurture and raise. In a way, I am able to be some of the person I so admire in her. Curious though, for in the doing, what she does, as what I do will, in the end, take us oceans apart.