Worse Things Happen At Sea
Herding Kites: A Celebration of New Australian Writing
Affirm Press, 2009.
Edited by Michael Williams
In conversations about death Col always brought up the fact that he wanted a sailor’s funeral. It was something he said to prove that he was an interesting person who had spent time thinking about things like death, and who maybe kept copies of Nietzsche under the bed. Not that he didn’t like the idea, but he did find himself looking for ways to work it into unrelated conversations. First, he’d say the body wrinkles up like too much time spent in the bath, and then come the crabs, to break it down – that would run a crease between the eyebrows of the girl listening. Col liked the image of the crabs; the cutlery of the sea, simple mechanisms made for tearing up large hocks. That’s the way I want to go, he’d say, staring into middle-distance, into the great saltwater nothingness. He’d come close to getting laid, on more than one occasion, as a direct result of the sailor’s funeral story. “But sailors aren’t buried in the sea,” Amy said. Glimpses of a tongue sudden like innards when she spoke. “Sailors actually want to come back to land. Like Hemingway; ‘the sea is the accomplice of human restlessness.’ If you’re a sailor it’s bad for the soul to end up in the sea.” Col maximizes an image, and minimizes an image, and maximizes another. There was a mouth, he thinks, as red and hot as a kerosene fire, that I have to see again.