Saturday, 15 September 2012

Derek's Ark


Out here in biege suburbia, autumn lawn sprinklers hiss, swimming pool pumps chug, and high notes of chlorine waft in the still afternoon. Here it's always Sunday afternoon, and tomorrow's always Monday. Here the rigours of adulthood crush the fluttering pennants of dreams, and the people wake up every morning wondering who they are, numb and mummified in the rigor mortis of snooze button time.

Along the silent picket fences, garden sheds, and endless queues of telephone poles... Comes the tap tap tap of a hammer, an unanswered Morse code written in nails and wood. Out in this landlocked postcode, in a small backyard a thousand miles from the sea, Derek is building a yacht, a swooping wish made flesh, of wood, rope, and paint. It's just a flat keel right now, a wooden spine, a fish skeleton with skeletal curved bow timbers praying up to the sky. At dusk, in the twilight, the half-built boat carcass looks like a Viking burial, its wooden rune shapes silhouette against the agent orange city sunset. Derek's hammer knock knock knocks till late at night, and the hammer on wood drum noise cacophony rises up with the howls of the hemmed in neighbourhood dogs, as they pace their balding bedsit lawns.

Derek's been spending nights, mornings before breakfast, and any moment he can. The cluttered yard smells of pitch and wood glue. He scrounged every last piece of wood he could: balsa popsicle sticks, a scarred kitchen table, the white pine posts of a picket fence, an old oak wardrobe, dusty grey floorboards, and a towering telephone pole for a mast, all bound with cords made from roller-skate bootlaces, string from brown paper parcels, and bright silk ribbons. The burgeoning, flapping sailcloth is spun from the threads of white honeymoon bed sheets, frayed monogrammed handkerchiefs, a pearl scarf from a Paris holiday, a pale cotton bergamot-scented tea cloth, and a tablecloth from a spinster’s trousseau.
The boat spars are cured hard with a thousand hours' sweat. Bowline, half-hitch, reef... each knot tied careful as a prayer. This idea, this dream has to be seaworthy down to the marble ice floes of the Arctic.

3 comments:

Alex said...

scorching bit of prose. you make me feel like giving up.

fush&chips said...

Why, thank you, Alex.

Darryl Hebbes said...

Hodgin is building a Yacht? I want pics, stat!