Down At The Harbour

Away from imbroglios and brouhahas, travelling down to the almost torpid shorelines where oleaginous waves rhythmically brush away all dread and doubt – it is here that pulsing sorrow wells up in the more maudlin side of my composure as I find my senses overwhelmed by the deep and drowning blues of sky and sea. Though sand may feel rough under my burning feet, this blue quenches the thirst left behind by this gravelly terrain. I stare vacantly at the line far away where sky blue becomes ocean blue. The deafening hush of land-bound winds and crashing wake is enough to engulf and extinguish any distractions that may cause my mind to sway from this harbour surrounding.

It is only when I come back to this tranquil abode that life becomes muted enough for me to truly embrace the thoughts rambling away in my brain. This place where gulls lull lazily in gentle circles as though on the strings of a mobile. Their star-shaped shadows flit across sand, contoured by every convex and concave dune. And as these shadows envelop my gaze my ears fill with the shrill bell cry from their feathered throats – blown past red beaks. Below the seagulls, below my feet, the busy lives of crustaceans run on with unmatched precision. Careful crab claws collect the treasures of the swampy grounds under the pier. Yet this rhythmic scuttling, though hard at work, does not take away from the soothed atmosphere.

Then for a moment the wind wandering on over the crests of water brings a chill and in a blink a stagnant suspicion of indifference is portrayed throughout the harbour. It was as if the very ocean itself had turned its back on me, with ambitions of rolling on back the way it came; receding towards the distant horizon. I saw boats with masts – thousands of them – their masts rigged with sails and ropes like some abomination of a white Christmas tree. And through the chipped paint of the hulls came groans and creaks of horrific noise. The restless convicts of the bay yearned for escape into the wide seas; hollow insides and barrels of sound threatening to burst open and knock the wharf from its lynch-pin pillar, long rotted from oysters and tides. Fish lay putrid and grey on the buoys and soggy shore – made silver only by the sun’s stale rays; this stale day.

Looking down I could do nothing but groan inwardly, a carnivalesque urge deep in my ribs threatening to split me. For the scene was too calm, too benevolent to bare; a malicious side of myself wanting to claw it all back down towards me as if to create some equilibrium. When all I had truly wanted was joy – even just contentment would have done – instead I found gloom cloak its crumbled wings ever closer about me. I wanted to rip the harbour canvas to shreds, down to the very fibres of its existence as if its destruction would ease my troubles. My girl stood ahead of me, her back turned, although I knew she was aware of my presence. Her feet swept through the shallow seas as if she were merely kicking aside all worriment. Hair darker than anything else in the harbour thrown over her shoulders accumulated salt and sand; the ocean purging itself of all dryness. And when she turned to me the sun was in her eyes, but I knew she could see I was unhappy. But with a simple smile and gesture to join her down at the seaside, all dread and doubt was once again brushed away as rhythmically as the oleaginous waves of the torpid shorelines of this harbour.

– 2011


Published by P. S. Clinen

Official website of Australian author, artist and musician, P.S.Clinen. He has published two novels - Tenebrae Manor and The Will of the Wisp, as well as the illustrated poem A Boy Named Art. His most recent release is a poetry collection Vignettes - An Anthology. All of his works are available to purchase on Amazon. He has several albums available on Bandcamp and other streaming services. Check back often for more by this author, including poetry, short stories, new music and other updates.

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