The Hell Butterfly

Hard to Starboard

Binoculars plastered to my eyes; the route ahead in view; dark waters that we’re passing through.

“Iceberg, right ahead”.

Battle scar assessment: impending doom awaits. No avoiding this one.

“Hard to starboard,” someone calls. Wheel driven to the deepest point. I, the captain, see it all before my eyes. The glacier glittering among an ocean, black, and vast, and permanent. All at once I wish that we could crash. Drive the ship into the snow white goddess of the sea. Amphitrite, take me. Split my hull, embrace me in eternity. Hold my head under, sing a hymn for me at my watery grave. I see the end. I want it, crave it, wish that I could orchestrate it.

But wishes don’t come true. Not for me in this world of blue. The sea now shines, the Dawn is breaking, spreading out her fingertips of rose. Poseidon did not strike me down, nor Neptune with his trident. They let me go. In fact they guided me away. Turned on the moon to stop my ship from sinking. My ship turned sideways, did not hit the iceberg. Somehow, I have survived. I do not understand quite why.

Now it is day. The albatross now leads the way. No bullets for this beauty. I have a scarf, now pull it round me tightly. I let her fly.

Shore up ahead. I leave the sea behind. The land implores me. My little capsule boat, she sails no more. Feet now on solid ground I turn about and contemplate my lover. I used to worship her. The simpleness of her and me forever, pure, eternal. I left the land and fell to her embrace. She took me in, and I caressed her surface. My fingertips, they brushed her shining waves. I loved the emptiness. The vast expanse with only me and her. No other soul to interrupt my peace.

And then she swallowed me.

I sunk into the mouth of her and she destroyed me. Upon my solitary vessel I was drowning. ‘Death to peace.’ Not death for death’s sake, but death to find enlightenment. Amphitrite sink my bones. Pour my lover into me and drown me from inside. Hold my hand and pull my ship asunder. Let every splinter fall apart and drag me down to hell, or heaven, purgatory or to silence. Just end my ever-present loneliness and leave me be. The hopelessness of singularity on an ocean blackening with every hour, how it tears apart my soul! At once, I hated her. Where once I craved the melancholy emptiness of me and my ocean lover, now I wanted out. I lusted over memories of other souls and me. I could take the loneliness no more.

And so the iceberg came, the plea for death was made, and we survived. Poseidon did not want me in his ranks. Perhaps I was unworthy, or maybe he decided I should live. In either case, my expiration was averted. I made it back to shore, and now I stand with toes among the sand and looking out at what I used to love.

I am alive. I see the moon and not its pale reflection. The stars now peer around the clouds that used to rain on me. And now, as Dawn spreads out her fingertips of rose, the peach and lilac sparkle through the gloom and I am free. At least for now, I leave my little boat behind and turn away.

“Hard to starboard”. I’ll hit no icebergs for some time. My way is open, and the albatross she leads. Fly on.


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