Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Greenland Yarn: The Old Sailor

There seemed no immediate danger as our course would pass the iceberg, just, but we were getting ever closer. As it approached I spotted a shape on its upper slopes.

"Siggi" I called below, but there was no reply.

I peered closer, wiping my glasses clean, struggling to resolve what it was, for the brain was rejecting what the eye could see. On the top surface of the iceberg was a lifeboat, its wooden planks blown grey by countless years of Arctic winds. Who could guess how long it had sat there, what port it had set sail from? But it wasn't alone, for propped up against the stern was a figure, gaunt, bearded, frozen in his sitting position, hands cradling a metal mug: a sailor from another age.

"Siggi" I called again.

Then the iceberg began to rotate, to flip, as underwater its foot had melted so much it became unstable. The lifeboat slipped downwards, as if to be launched, and the old sailor's arm was flung up in one final salute, his mug flying off in an arc to splash in the sea near me. For a moment it looked like they would be free after centuries of being locked to the berg; then its peak came crashing down dragging both under. Boulders of ice broke away, scattering over the sea like crumbs on a table. A wave raced towards us and Aurora rocked, precariously.

"What happened?" asked Siggi, his head finally appearing in the companionway.

I thought of telling him about the boat, about the sailor.

"A berg rotated" I answered, and he returned below, satisfied.

I kept watching, hoping for some wreckage to appear amongst the waves and growlers. Just as I was about to give up I saw the sailor's old metal mug, bobbing gently. It was kept afloat by the air pocketed ice within it which was melting, and suddenly the mug sank below, quickly lost in the dark waters, leaving behind the sailor's last drink as a dark brown tiny iceberg: tea maybe?

I watched it fall astern until out of sight, then felt like a reviving hot cup for myself.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait for next saga!