★ ‘Way Out to China’ by Jim Meirose

sailor cleaning

Skip crawled slowly through the gap between the huge battered rusty stacks of giant shipping containers, working hard aboard the aging huge freighter Dakota Maru, far out somewhere unknown in the Atlantic, on his fifty-first voyage from New York to Shanghai.  He worked as he thought, and thought as he worked, as, Jesus, Christ, almighty! Yes, that is all I was burdened with, sure. Nothing at all, really no—just burdened with twelve brothers and sisters, four bedrooms, and only two bathrooms, and getting zero attention or care from the one they all called Mother. That was life, Doc—that’s probably what soured me on land life. That’s probably why I turned to the sea. That’s probably why I prefer life at sea to on land. That’s why if I’m on the beach, kind of between sea and land, barefoot in the place where the surf just comes and its fifty percent each sand and water, and I have water cupped in one hand and sand cupped in the other, I will always choose to shake the sand away from my hand, fast; and I will stoop to my cupped hand and suck up the water. It’s salt, so what. It’s water. It’s always water—shit in it, or pure as fresh spring naturally baby bottom perfect heaven, it’s all water, and it’s all the same to me—suck it up. I will, every sweet drop—

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