Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Northeaster

The glorious ship from Egypt
the Alexandrian,
loaded with grain and hundreds of sailors,
was my caravan of trade and commerce
headed to Italy, to make lots of money.
Along the way we met
Julius the centurian,
carting some prisoners
over to stand trial before Caesar,
so I took them aboard.
Why not?
Among them was Paul,
who could have been set free, I was told,
if he hadn't prematurely made his appeal.
What a fool.

It was getting late in the season,
but I knew my ship - she was hardy.
The Romans they used to say,
"To sail after mid September is doubtful,
and after mid-November -
but what did they know?
We had a bit of rough going, sure,
but I found what I was looking for,
the gentle southwind...
...and we set sail along the coast,
(against Paul's warnings
and religious ramblings)
seeking the harbour that would protect my
beautiful Alexandrian
until March, the end of winter.
Julius was on board.

But that precious southwind was
an adulterous liar,
enticing me soothingly
while she slept with the Northeaster,
the Northeaster
whose rage fell upon us as a jealous husband
whose territory had been violated.
We had no business in those waters,
for he came sweeping down from the island of Crete,
a typhoon with hurricane force,
and we lost all hope of standing our ground
being driven along
in terror.
We sailed with all our might
tossing the cargo overboard,
dragging the sea anchor beneath the ship's tackle
which I flung over the side with my own hands,
my precious mainsail becoming
another hopeful brake for my Alexandrian.
The sun and the stars hid for many days
until we gave up all hope of being saved.
In desperation
we had passed ropes under the ship
to hold her together,
not knowing that
the smallest detail
would keep her afloat:
that we had Paul,
and Paul had God.

Fourteen days and nights
we did not eat,
but lived on adreniline and suspense
praying for daylight.
Who was I praying to?
Finally we sensed we were nearing land,
and the soundings confirmed it.
Some sailors tried to escape on the lifeboat
we had nearly lost to the storm,
but Paul,
who claimed to have angels speaking to him,
warned Julius,
"unless they stay, you die."
Julius was on board,
and the soldiers cut the ropes.
And then Paul did the craziest thing...
he opened the remaining grain,
the lifeblood of the Alexandrian,
and drained her to the ravenous men,
urging them to eat,
while giving thanks to God.
And my Alexandrian died,
dashed to pieces by the pounding surf
on a sandbar when daylight came.
But every disoriented sailor
because we had Paul,
and Paul had God.

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