FIRE ON THIRD CLIFF
I brought my boat and myself out onto the ocean today.
The neighboring towns are having a regatta. At the launch, parking spaces are littered with 5’ trailers. The size suggests International 420 sailboats, but I am too far removed from my experience with the sport (and from the smattering of white-and-red-and-blue-colored triangles) to uphold my conviction. A weekday morning, it is a boys’ and girls’ regatta — ages seven to thirteen. Far off sails shine small and white and full of life.
The same might be said of the children.
I motor along the perpendicular of the shore, keeping my distance from the fleet of promising youths, while surveying the seaside escarpment: projections of hilly orthography berthed at mind’s eye. There is Third Cliff. A former classmate had a house there with her family, and my girlfriend at the time would have me invited to their parties. In hindsight I consider my involvement a matter of her doing, though I might have been called on regardless of my romantic situation.
I am borne shoreward as the coos of the entering tide swell under the blue notes of Booker Ervin’s horn.
[Awake] Setting myself upright as to address the sighing breakers, diaphanous pillars of light hang suspended through the shallows before collapsing at my sides, spreading themselves on the ocean floor. I scan the sterile, bodiless sands — privately owned. In my twenty summers I have yet to wade its waters; lower myself; surrender my body to the cool of the sea. This is not the pebbled shore under whose stilted houses I danced with Remy in a moonlit fog.
Along the beach runs a high wall.
The engine turns over after some meddling with the choke, and soon the boat lurches forward and is pointed toward oblivion (if only I could carry the gas). Drifting at a quarter mile, I can no longer make out the offending hugeness of the seawall. Struck by the perfect nakedness of the coast, I wonder at the momentary encounter.
Like a teenager I woke promptly where my dreams left off — nestled upon virgin shores.
I look to Third Cliff — its peninsulan jutting-out-into and its relative closeness to the harbor. I notice a figure; erect, enclosed by a moat-like perimeter of brush before looming mansions. I sense the man’s alertness to my floating there, and meditate on Mingus Ah Um and the deep pink of my upturned shoulders.
I motor again into oblivion.
Now I think I will rest my head on the bow under a bunched up shirt that, when unfurled, reads “KEROUAC FOR ALL SEASONS”, all of which I may perchance forget with the help of Horace Parlan’s keys.
I forgot to mention, though, the clouds I saw earlier above and behind Third Cliff: billows of smoke rising from the back yards of millionaires, belied only by their stillness.