About a year ago Ben, Chris and I wrote a little musical called Fo'c's'le. I played the Bo's'n. (Really.) We performed it as part of Chris Wild's album release concert. It was about the worst weather imaginable in Chicago that night. Tons of snow, desperate cold. The next morning I woke up early and took the train across the city to Midway. It was the coldest I have ever been in Chicago, standing on the El platform at Loyola in -20 with a stiff breeze. I couldn't believe my gratitude when I made it to the airport, and couldn't believe my good luck when my plane to Denver actually left the ground. Colorado was mild and sunny. I drove a few hours up the road to Saratoga, Wyoming and spent a month writing this piece.
Fo'c's'le incited in all three of us a love for nautical terminology. On Christmas Day I was reading Robert Fitzgerald's translation of The Odyssey, and I think the end of Book II is about the most gorgeous thing I read all year:
"Telémakhos then stepped aboard; Athena
took her position aft, and he sat by her.
The two stroke oars cast off the stern hawsers
and vaulted over the gunnels to their benches.
Grey-eyed Athena stirred them a following wind,
soughing* from the north-west on the winedark sea,
and as he felt the wind, Telémakhos
called to all hands to break out mast and sail.
They pushed the fir mast high and stepped it firm
amidships in the box, made fast the forestays,
then hoisted up the white sail on its halyards
until the wind caught, booming in the sail;
and a flushing wave sang backward from the bow
on either side, as the ship got way upon her,
holding her steady course.
Now they all made secure in the fast black ship,
and, setting out the winebowls all a-brim,
they made libation to the gods, the undying, the ever-new,
most of all to the grey-eyed daughter of Zeus.
And the prow sheared through the night into the dawn."
*sough: verb [no obj.] (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.**) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound.
**Great use of et cetera.
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