matt pond PA

August 22, 2017

Cruisin’ Under the Eclipse.

The cruise ship deck is empty. A gray mist holds a tight lid over the sea’s sights, the sounds of the chugging engine quelled to a lonely bachelor’s gargle.

Gulls sporadically waddle out of the white. Then turn back into the woolly nothing. This could equally be anywhere and nowhere.

Everyone’s huddled below, watching the weather.

They fear and worship the imaginary apocalypse. Somewhere past the horizon, they believe there’s a metaphysical hurricane in a stolen shrimp boat. Stalking us, waiting to overtake our vessel. Lusty phantom pirates aboard, scarved and scurvied, trying to pull us under, to wed down in the raven’s watery chambers: the nothing that none of us knows how to unravel.

I would prefer to believe I stand alone up here due to my consummate shuffleboard skills. The announcers in my head cannot stop gushing about this cinderella story, the fully grown kid from New England that shocked the world with his slippery flair. A backwater nobody, who stepped out of vanilla shadows for a single, silent moment of glory.

It’s not enough. I would like to speak to someone. To wrestle with words, to chase with safety scissors. I would like to play the lawless shuffleboard of youth. To obliterate the disks or send them soaring into ocean.

I don’t want to watch the weather in the Sugar Bubble Lounge down below. I want the thunderbolts to hit me square in the forehead. The rain to pummel my skin, the wind to lift me off the ground. I want to grapple an alligator, I want to be punched by a donkey.

I search for the captain. Perhaps he has some corncob wisdom to invoke. My desire to understand is real, my question is simple:

Who implanted this joy and pain inside of us? And then set the game show wheel spinning. On a cruise without vision, on a deck without anyone to caress.

The problem could be this — I used to be the guy who drinks his seltzer warm. It’s not sufficient to say I drank a negligible supply of fizzy water every blue moon — warm seltzer was my thing. As if scored into my features, like forehead creases or unsophisticated, Saturday night inflections. I’m a collection of humid memories, stifling dreams. And warm seltzer is right there, pouring from the waterfall of life in a fleeting and infinite image of my simple self.

But this seltzer in front of me is cold. It runs through my body with a cooling, refreshing feeling. I’m sated in a way I’m rarely sated. (I don’t know who I am.)