SCRIMSHAW

SCRIMSHAW I

SCRIMSHAW I

A page torn from a journal.

SCRIMSHAW II

SCRIMSHAW II

The grief and fear stops here, with me. I will hold it back from him. I will make sure my son never needs to carve himself into bones. I will tell him of the man who should have been my father, and I will tell him all I have learned about love.

SCRIMSHAW III

SCRIMSHAW III

It floated on its back, stiff and hard as driftwood, hands curled up toward the sky, fingers locked in strange claws that put me in mind of someone clutching an invisible hand.

SCRIMSHAW IV

SCRIMSHAW IV

There was no sound but the swirling. Seawater stung my nostrils and blinded me. My death was to be right this moment, I was sure. Panic eclipsed my every conscious thought.

SCRIMSHAW V

SCRIMSHAW V

It was not lost on me, as I slipped the canvas monkey belt around my waist, how easy it would be for the sailor at the other end of the rope to lose his grip. How little it would take to send me plunging into the sea to join the sharks and the swirls of blood.

SCRIMSHAW VI

SCRIMSHAW VI

I should tell you about the tryworks. In the processing of a whale, we must render the oil on the ship by way of boiling. The Drum, my whaling ship, was fitted with two large iron pots, which would in the course of processing be filled near to the brim with boiling, bubbling oil.

SCRIMSHAW VII

SCRIMSHAW VII

Because now I could hear her voice, the whale, telling me she wanted to go home. I could hear the soft lapping of the black water against the hull. I was thinking again of my home on land, and of my inevitable death at sea.

SCRIMSHAW VIII

SCRIMSHAW VIII

Ironically, I think it was the quality of my work that drove him to the edge. He had been watching me, waiting so long for me to fail, and my success was so infuriating, that he decided, finally, to kill me.