False Lights

I have yet to depart the many mastheads of Falmouth Harbor, and though the ferry has carried me to and from the Island, it has never carried me across the sea.

That is not to say that I have not traveled. I have been far and wide in my town; found the hidden places like a maker of maps; carved my sign in white chalk atop many walls and glacial debris that make up the breakwaters of the Cape Cod coastline. We are travelers of the familiar and static places, and from bowsprits and childhood bedrooms we can gain a better vantage of the stars. In the way of a bygone bus dweller overlooking the Sashana River, I found my way to an unexplored place, I simply forgot the map.



To and from Main Street, I have become a kitchen dweller, a living room busker, a drinker of tea and coffee at strangely kept hours. I have become one to think in the ways of ancient mariners and mystic captains, looking for the mundane and forgotten stains on our charts. I have drawn together sheets of fleeting friends who luff in the wind and catch strong the breeze when we begin to drift. I have grown well in a safe harbor, and we are much the same in our moorings.

The shoreline of our futures is rocky, and littered with forgotten hulls, which we shall one day explore like children. Through rust holes and creaking iron, we follow the oxidized corridor in search of meaning like a long lost and waterlogged cargo manifest; the ship’s log of my first drafts are disintegrated in salt water. Where one ship’s back is broken on the beach head, another will soon take its place in winter storms. Wrecker’s once lured ships to coastlines like this on Cornwall, and in a way, we too light fires on the beaches, though there are no longer ships out to sea which might mistake them. Instead, the ritual is spun round in modernity. Where there were bands of wreckers, there are now children playing Robinson Crusoe in the firelight under the stars.


I have never been across the ocean, carried by a coal steamer built at the start of the first world war. My dreams, like such laden tubs, carry me there at night. The threat of submarines and sinking ships in storms is always there in the minds of those at the edge of the harbor breakwater, but the gleam in salt sprayed eyes is still there. Even if submariners and squalls get us, someone else’s boat is bound get through. And if I’m lucky, someday, I might be the one to feel the strangeness of foreign wind; to feel the home of a thousand homes, and leave a well-loved kitchen glowing in the night like beach fires on the horizon of memory.

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