A noisy one she is, her mom was a shill in the USSR, her voice follows me everywhere, a shrill shill she was, pushy, even here in my cabin on the good ship Isabelle out of Stockholm bound for Riga, her voice, ‘the buffet is open,’ ‘lottery tickets are still available,’ haunts me, this cabin womb-like tomb-like, imagine crossing the seas from Senegal in the hold of the ‘Alabama’, this cabin might be as small as I’ll ever have to go, although maybe a salary man’s cubicle is awaiting me in South Korea, no that’s Japan, while gazing out the dirty window after boarding I ate a cross-bred quiche-pizza and a second wine for today and I ordered cake with green icing, which is here in my den with me, can the government force passenger vehicles to wash their windows, nah, damn government mucking around in everybody’s business, there’s absolutely no constitutional right in Latvia or elsewhere to clean windows, I can feel the rocking of the ship ever so slightly, so so slightly, it is a big mother of a ship, looks solid even if all the windows are dirty, I looked for a long time before I saw anyone on this ship that looked like they weren’t Latvian, Russian, Swedish, Baltic, finally I saw a dark pretty Mediterranean-looking couple and eventually a black man, felt like Steve and me looking for a woman, one single woman on the streets of Seeb.
There’s that image isn’t there? The one of the elegant woman-of-a-certain-age wrapped in a blue plaid shawl on the deck of a steamer leaving European shores for…safety? She’s reading Henry James. It’s wartime and the world is foggy gray and she is being catered to ever so attentively by a young man who looks like Leonardo DiCaprio, you know that if only…they could…become lovers…but it would be unseemly and the Germans are just below in submarines and it is all so hopeless anyway, what film was that?
I do feel a little alone but if I weren’t I couldn’t keep the temperature where I want it could I? Gentle rocking, what to do, I can’t just stay in here and write nonsense and read a book I downloaded about Putin for the next 17 hours can I? Can I? On Deck 6 ‘no networks can be found,’ it just occurred to me, there is no security screening on this ship, apparently no one is mad at Latvia and/or Sweden, how many guns are on board, last time, the only other time I took giant ferry anywhere, Bergen to Newcastle, I met this man but that’s another story, wonder if he is still alive, see how we think at my age, here’s what I have in my small bag/backpack that goes everywhere with me: Surface, power source, Galaxy 6, power source, Nook, power source, little make-up pouch free from the Dubai Mall with my orange lipstick comb nail clippers pen big connector thing from REI for all the world’s power outlets to all the world’s electronics notebook (made out of paper), passport billfold credit cards American dollars (please let me go home to my children—here I have dollars…okay okay so not that many dollars…how about some yen then?)
I went upstairs for awhile, sat and watched hundreds of little green wooded islands go by, some with red story-book houses and white storybook sailboats out front, when we reached open sea about three hours into the journey I bought some Keefir to make sure my stomach stays happy, wow, this is serious stuff they sell here, no vanilla or banana to blunt the sharpness of sour milk, dad would have loved it. 9pm in my cave. I was a little panicky for a minute there, no window, no TV, no internet, no real book of words on paper. But now I’m fine…this is just a smaller version of last night’s hotel room which was a smaller version of the hotel from the night before which was a smaller version of my cabin on Neset which was a smaller version of my Albuquerque apartment. Everything is relative.
Yes, once again I admit to not being Ron Silliman. How did he make sense without ever using periods, but I’m not really trying to make sense, pointless on cruise ferries or airplanes, stream-of-travel-consciousness this is.
Maybe I feel a bit queasy because I’m in a tiny compartment in a big boat on the gently but consistently wavy deep blue sea.
Think about what Libyans and Syrians and all of their cousins are going through on the high seas in tiny rocking and rolling containers to get the hell away from their broken countries as all the rest of us have stood by while the breaking happened in fact sold the guns that broke everything. That’s life we say. That’s life. Or death. On the high seas. Meanwhile in a few hours my sea-worthy duty-free shop will enter the safe harbor of a tourist town and I will look at things.