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My Cool Southern Sea (3)

Jacob is my sister's boy. Fair like her and cheerful. He came to learn the sea with me. My cool southern sea. With tales of Camperdown and heroes bold, we sailed to join Van Daendels. Jacob talked of warm Spice Islands, lolling in the sun; but he loved our cruise as well, our predatory voyage, driving the English from my cool southern sea.

This one fled, and that one dead, and boys aloft the watches round to win a captured guinea for sighting first the next. Jacob it was who took the coin. My sister's boy. At first light, his young eyes caught faint shadows of t'gallants in the dark and misty west. Waakzaamheid bold in his east, but he sailed on as if at peace. We shook the night reef from our topsails just as someone there woke to peril. Jacob's piping echoed older lookouts: "Chase wearing ship!"

I slacked the set to play the slug, but this one's not a fool. He danced with me as we ran the trades out. Jacob learned each twist and slide, each turning step of flight. My sister's boy, and bright. This is a fine fat fifty, half nimble, a dancer remembering distant youth. Perhaps notorious Leopard. An aging matron, but a sweet prize. Good prey to learn on, and a brisk finish to close our dance, as we sail toward my cool southern sea.

Where the wind dies, between the trades and the great South, she fell becalmed. As the dark rose, our boats lowered. Jacob with my oldest follower, to learn the act of boarding from the best. They cast wide to the west, to come from dark when our cannon dawn lights the east. We ghost on a high light air, too high for Leopard, but tickled from the night by the fingertips of tall Waakzaamheid. When not quite near enough to reach, we bang away like proper fools, guns warned to risk no shot that might go past and strike our own. All light and fury, broadside blazes warm the night and rivet the prey. The silent spear draws near. From the edge of my cool southern sea. My sister's boy.

One glance of dread toward our guns and lookouts will see nothing else this night. But stay! The traitor wind shows life. Fat dancer lurches while she can. Craven crouching stumbling flight downwind -- she falls on our boats. Rips them as she passes. And flees. Into my cool southern sea.

Many lost -- brave seamen all -- but Jacob found. My sister's boy. In the cockpit, others wailing, he tells each move the prey did make. Brave meaningless report. Linen stumps waving, vacant gestures weaving, but wide child eyes wonder which hero's lesson this might be. What move the dance calls next.

Into the night, where prey last fled, we soar with fierce intent. Not hope of glory, nor of gold, but pay in other scrip. For the wailing. For the losses, half embraces, crawling paces, missing faces -- and the ever sweeter smell. From our cockpit rising now. From our Hell. Into the night we cry, to the cool southern sea.

No reason now to leave the deck. My coat is changed but not my gaze. Each scrap of every sort and kind is set to ease my burning mind. Now Jacob from the cockpit comes. His coil discarded, mounts aloft to wield that youthful eye, to stalk the aging cat that stole his joy, that easy glee in war's each ploy. My sister's boy.

Beloved waves rise up to slow her flight, this dying Leopard clawed my soul. Pale faces watch our fateful close. One slides behind the mizzen in too casual cower as each roller lifts her to our gaze, lifts her to iron thanks for their passing gesture to our boys. Jacob gibbers on the spritsail yard. Phantom limbs akimbo, taunting all the craven. Calling them to his new home. My sister's boy.

The captain so clever, that meister of dance, is left with no moves but to die at the last. He has guns up her ass but the Leopard can't slow us. Waakzaamheid sneers at the snorts in her face. No turns can he make in my cool southern sea. And it burns, oh it burns. In my cool southern sea.

So close we can touch, I lean on the sword -- press home for the kill as her last sea rises, my cool southern sea. The Leopard farts, a line parts, and masts follow after. My Waakzaamheid turns to ask what I will, to glance past her stern at the steep looming hill, at my cool southern sea.

The sword we have leaned on, its point is our fate. The hilt's in the mouth -- or the ass if you will -- of nasty old Leopard. That horrible hag. Now we turn as we fall, we six hundred all. Joining sweet Jacob. In my cool southern sea.


© 2003 Gary W. Sims