The Sailor

from by Uprooted

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I still remember long ago, when we were young, the lighthouse keeper had a funeral for his son--still lost out at sea. He told us of the day the ocean swept his love away, how we reminded him of them, he asked us if we would stay to hear his story. "He'd been young and he'd been strong," he said, and one look in his eyes told me he'd already taken himself to another time before his son had died:

"Times were hard, he'd been just barely getting by, but he saw her at the market, and when he caught her eye nothing else mattered. He liked her hair, he liked her voice, he liked the way she smiled, he asked her if she wouldn't maybe stay there for a while to get to know him. And they'd talk far into the night, and she made everything alright, and every day she'd be waiting by the shore for him to come home."

He said, "I still remember how the storm passed through, that day, and the way she didn't scream when she was swept away, and my son, how he'd deny that she was gone at all, and the way he'd set adrift without a hint of gall; and I remember how he'd spend his nights soaked in seafoam waiting for her to drift by, to say he's not alone, until he called upon the tide to make a pact. He said, "I don't care if it means my life, I want her back." By dawn, they'd struck a deal, he'd set sail the last time, not a soul dared follow under clouds all red, to find that when the skies had cleared, they were no more apart-they say he haunts the ships of men who live with heavy hearts."

My dear, they say it's just a legend, but what if it's true? What if it's cursed, this ship, and all its wretched crew? What if every one of us has already been drowned? Do you think I'd even notice if this ship went down? Sometimes I think I wouldn't, that I've been living my whole life at the bottom of the ocean, but you've given me some light. I made a promise to the old man that I'd stay with you, but my words don't have quite the same weight that they used to. I remember how, when he was done, he pulled me aside, said "Listen, son", all shaky-voiced and teary-eyed, then he whispered in a voice that only I could have heard, "When my son looked into the storm, these were his final words:

He said, "I'm sorry for all of the things that I am not, I'm sorry to the people that I've forgot; I'm sorry to all of my friends that I've made bleed, I'm sorry to the lovers that I've made leave; I'm sorry for breaking down a little more each day, and for every single time that I've gone away; I'm sorry all the times I've made you turn your back and I'm sorry if I ever try to make it back.""

And I remember how he clenched his fists, dried by the sea, and I remember you, in pieces, clinging onto me. I remember all the things you've made me want to say, all of them things I wish I could forget each day:

My dear, I'm sorry you're the only one I want by my side, and that you're the only thing that makes me feel alive; I'm sorry to the old man that we left in tears, and I'm sorry that I can't confront my own worst fears; I'm sorry if you ever got too close to me, and for twenty thousand messages, all lost at sea; I'm sorry I apologize for all my faults to you- you're all I have, and you're all I've got.

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from A Waterlogged Letter, released July 2, 2013

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Uprooted Knoxville, Tennessee

No more lost at sea than we ever were on land.

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