The raft is not the vessel I’d hoped for.
For a time I had company in the form of terns, a miniature armada of black-prowed yachts bobbing on the becalmed waters around me. But when the barnacle-encrusted flukes of a giant erupted lazily nearby, those feathered ketches became gliders, hanging like M’s from a child’s mobile. I envied them as the languid waves of a shattered, glassy sea slapped at the bound logs; a harsh whisper with a tinge of mourning.
To me! To me!
Across the immeasurable seas and frozen time, with a wind weaker than an asphyx, she draws me back to my planted rows, the wheat that grew high, which sustained me, clad my roof, crafted in a hundred different ways.
A steamship like The Ceres passes close by, rusty, miserable and draped in withered kelp. No water moves in its wake, no V from its flanks, just the salty stink of dead men who tell no tales, and on its bow: Richmond, England.
Ah, Richmond! How I miss its collection of bridges spanning the Thames like arpeggios. Would that this raft could ferry me to its estuary!
Nine suns and eight moons have been my only constant company, and though I pray to the sky for wind, it’s only the moon that replies, in song.
To me, to me, in the tall wheat, and even a hurricane couldn’t blow my raft away from that call. I sleep for peace but the beaching wakes me, and here I am.
I kneel before her plaited altar. She succours me with grass wine, her reedy hands caressing my hair.
The wheat is hungry we must feed it right, she says, and I walk with her down the rows, past all the bones of those who went before.