Sippican Cottage

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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Incantation (Still Fresh)

I can’t think of anything else.

We’re going to be out on the Banks for another week, easy. I’ve got to get it out of my mind.

I can’t. I keep rolling it around in there, like a prayer or nursery rhyme. I can’t think of any damn thing else. It’s a haunt.

How could I be so dumb? What made me do that? What was I thinking?

Chaves was talking to me. Man, that guy talks all the time. I wasn’t thinking straight. He distracted me.

Nah, it’s not Chaves fault I did it. It’s Chaves mother’s fault he’s a yammerin’ fool. It’s my fault I listened.

The easy rhythm is gone. Left foot finds the deck, in a spot the ice didn’t find yet. Plant it firm. Right hand pulls hard. Left hand guides. Spin it. Show the hoist the fist. Dump the scaly prize. Step back straight, now, and watch the roll. Ready again.

All I can think of is my hand. Who puts their hand on a frozen line without a glove on? Bring a woman on a boat for bad luck, stand in the bight of the bowline, play mumbletypeg with a blind man, but don’t take your glove off.

It’s nothing but pain. It won’t scab over until we’re back in New Beige and I have a glass under my nose. I don’t care about pain. It’s the shame of it I can’t stand. My hand is like a bad wife. It stands off to the side and reminds me how dumb I am. It never shuts up. It hasn’t got the mercy to get better or worse. It’s just the same, over and over and over until I want to kill the world with the noise in my head.

“Gangi! Pay attention, you ass, you almost put me over!”

I went forward. I took a pail of ice, and a pail of salt. I dumped the salt on the ice. I pulled my glove off and plunged my raw, bleeding hand in there.

There, that’s better.

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