Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Joy V. Sheridan & David Russell write

Quest Triste
Section 6

Part Two

Days rolled into nights, the threatening winter storms 

That had hovered, reared and roared. 
So it seemed that Meckelle was a blot neatly covered. 
Leviathan terrors o'ercame him. 
Sea monsters groaned, reared and coiled about him: 
Some turgid green, some nauseous speckled yellow, 
Some with fangs. No moon or stars to guide him; 
The cinders dull and cold, the sun always hazy . . .
This terrible fist about him clenched, 

No food, sweet sea air soiled and stenched 
With the rot of decay. A dying bird dropped - heavy as clay onto the boat; 
Ice bounded his craft, he could not sway 
Those bands to move, purples and oranges, 
Crimsons and scarlets, tongues licked his body 
Causing wounds to bleed: What heed? 
Salt rubbed into the weals and cuts, 
Sucking vampires by night struck, 
Blood red eyes deep into his very flesh and soul did creep.

Sargasso weed in petrified strands  

Clenched about his boat: 
Bitter, cold and chill the thrill 
Of voyaging in all its ghastly glory. 
This was, too, a part of Meckelle's story, 
Until at last, a cracking of the ice -
The vice-grip severed, the broken sails, 
Repaired with chilled fingers, 
Stood to the blowings of a moderate wind. 
The clouds cleared, the charcoals blew up again 
Bright upon the foredeck.

Meckelle watched with wonder 

The rigid wrecks of sailing ships 
Which had been bound for aeons in this place. 
Skeleton hands traced despair and blasphemy 
To the seas: Skulls, with eyes open and ruby-bright, 
Staring into every space, to the bottom of the ice 
And to the skies - and, yes: even unto his eyes.

Skeletons strapped to prows, 

And bones which powdered over oars; 
Jewels glittered bright and clear; 
Gold and silver bound up in nets, 
Corroded coins that laid no bets, 
Tattered rags on tall, immovable masts. 
Ropes thinned by ice and snow 
Like icicles struck at his soul. 
As his craft edged away 
From this graveyard of the oceans,
Those relics of other days rotted, 

Interned, submerged. 
Above them seabirds, who had been seen, 
Caught, stranded, frozen in mid-air; 
Frost crackling, proclaiming putrid despair.

His vessel bore him on some tide, 

And flying fish leapt right inside 
So he might eat afresh. 
The Heavens opened 
And poured tears of tenderness, 
So sweet that rain down sails ran. 
In flew eagles, albatrosses, 
Gulls and swarming terns, 
Bearing tender balms 
Through their piercing, flinty cries, 
They did fly, as if to soothe great Zephyrus's power, 
To veer it from its thrall, fly high -
Away Poseidon's cankered minions! 
Planing full the wave-chops that issued forth 
Through black exhortations, evil elations!

Fighting through fangs and slime, the tide sublime 

So now the tide was loving, the wake's scythe 
Swept back dark malice: 
Fair aerial forms clustered 
Above Zeus's infinite palace.

With migrant swallows' sense, they lent him wings, 

On into somnolence, so he might sing, 
Sweetening the horizon, laying blackness far behind,
As if great Pluto's furnace paused for breath, to yield a glow, 
A glow that slithered round the sea-bed shelf, 
To rinse the charcoaled heavens, offering its wealth. 
Dawn's nurtured embers blown, kneaded by cloudy skeins, 
They cast down their opaque slough, 
Tortured with great searing pains. 
The Gods' most pure, transparent filter lifted up the Earth. 
So that Meckelle could reach, in thought and sinew, 
To lights and fires of truth, in sun and stars; 
Reach on, his will for now his only oar. 
Then, as the searing white rim of the sun twisted his glance, 
His balance lost, he fell into a trance;
The sea's fleeced purple membrane ribbed, encrusted 

Lumps and pats of variegated shades, some rusted. 

The wind sighed down to peace, the foam-caps burst and sank, 

Yet with the air's, sea's stillness, 
The boat all horrors would outflank, 
As if those avine hordes had lent Meckelle their wings, 
Airs, blessings: he, aloft in thought 
Was spirited by springs - geysers, through spheres 
To planes still higher: 
This breath, a tempest-shaft, outstripping all mercurial fire. 
Thence into the smoothest pools his craft did drift, 
Perchance to seal off Pluto's will, those aerial sprites to shift. 
Fair blasts stolen from the sun, 
His dream a feather from a golden erne; 
It glid gracefully down, to join him where he was 
With landfall looming, he heard a parrot's 'Caw, caw, caw!'

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