Author's Note: Here I begin a saga that I have tentatively called “Islands”. Last month’s poem will fit in somewhere, not quite certain where. I hope to serialize Colquhoun’s adventures in the coming months.
Colquhoun’s Voyages Begin
When Colquhoun walked his island with his wife and daughter, both of whom he dearly loved, the ocean sung to him, wind made melody, tree branches gently rocked and swayed and clear water from running creek gurgled. Songs of joy arose inside Colquhoun and his whole world was glorious and bright. Across the sea, on numerous neighboring islands, came frequent boom of gun or cloud of smoke, distant cries of afflicted women and children and the angry shouting of male voices. Occasionally, floating with the tide, came a reeking stench of horror that Colquhoun towed out to sea and let the tide take it far away. They were the oppressions of other islands. They were happening to other people. Besides, what could he do? As he walked and sang his island songs Miriam grew from child to woman. With the urgent restlessness of young life, she looked with yearning across the sea. Then a man sailed, stopped and stayed, a man different to Colquhoun: gruff, non-verbal, no interest in beauty, but hard, muscular and young. Miriam looked at him and loved him and he took her from the island. Colquhoun watched her go, wished her joy in the same deep union that had been his great good fortune. Then the insular Colquhoun, who all his life had been pre-occupied with his own joy and previously, untouched by grief, returned to his walking and island songs, but there was an emptiness in his music, or a sadness he tried to shake off. Miriam had disappeared. He only saw her in his dreams. Then, in one fearful dream, he saw her. She was shrunk into a corner, tearful and wringing her hands. “I don’t know what I have to do to please you.” Then he dreamt ugly and angry words. “You’re nuthin but a fucken waste of space. I give ya fucken everythin and whatdya fucken do. I’m workin me fucken guts out and the place is a fucken pigsty. I doan want another fucken kid. Ya got one already. Fucken get rid of it” When, sweat-covered and heart thumping, Colquhoun woke, all his music was gone. There was sound but no melody and above the noise of wave and wind Colquhoun now heard, as he never had before, the great cacophonous cries of the broken world and one well-loved voice rising higher than all the others. Then Colquhoun made his preparations. He inspected his little boat, stocked it well with provisions for long voyage by sea, begged Elizabeth to come with him even when he knew in his heart that she could not. There were animals to look after. Responsibilities to which she must attend. She would stay and he would go alone. She stood silently on the beach and watched as he rowed out past the breakers, and through tears saw him raise his sail, set course for the nearest island, and disappear behind the headland. She turned and walked to her home. Her heart was filled and feet were heavy. Her shoulders, usually so straight, slumped. Her world suddenly changed. A shocked numbness consumed her. Bleakness replaced beauty and dark thoughts would not let go. Would he find Miriam? Would he bring her home? Would she want to come? Would she ever see Colquhoun again?
©2021 Neil Creighton
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