If Jason rebuilds the Argo, each part replaced one at a time, port after port, is there a point when he no longer sails the same ship? What if the crew goes home? What if Jason remodels the galley and hires a Michelin starred chef and what if he expands his quarters to feature a large, circular bed, surrounded by mirrors, and a new stereo system; and what if he also expanded the head so that there was a large shower with two shower heads and seating areas, and a hot tub. What if The Floating Farm To Fork Capital of Ancient Greece became the talk of every town.
"Have you seen The Argo?" they say, "I hear Jason invites only a few people on at a time" they say.
The property value of iolcus goes up as citizens of Athens move in buying up neighborhoods that used to be home to barbarians. This is the golden age of The Bronze Age! Our hero, Jason, has revitalized a ship of adventure into a ship of commerce!
but is it still The Argo? Jason leans through the steam towards one the two mirrors in the remodeled shower and shaves his mustache clean off. He uses a special, handmade soap, picked up at a local fair, to scrub his face clean, whiskers swirling in the soap sludge.
and the soap kills the hundreds of mites fucking and shitting on his face, living off his sebaceous charity. And the bacteria that lived there too, decide that the PH of the neighborhood has changed too much and they are packing their single celled luggage.
And if all the other millions of living, microscopic, beings dwelling within him left and took their cousins in angstrom jalopies for greener fields?
Would Jason look in the mirror, and know himself without his tiny passengers? How long would he survive without his unseen blood?
"Water seeming still as stone in crags / and ridges hewn by patient and lingering time / now sliding . . . or should it be melting?" I paused, unsure of how to continue writing the poem. I looked up to clear my head. Brad was filtering the cold water of the fork into his canteen. Pete was absent-mindedly munching trail mix, and gazing in the direction of our half mile more before we make the descent to Donahue and after begining our ascent to the ice. My eyes settled on a whitebark pine, strange and twisted, roots struggling around a boulder, its bark stripped and white in places like a bone, and small claws of spiky green pushed out in odd directions. I don't know why this tree held my attention. It didn't seem any more worthy of gaze than much else within such a picturesque setting, the cold summit looming in the distance. I thought it looked like a bonsai, and I thought of the early bonsai of Japan where a tree like this would be uprooted, well probably a smaller one, more stonesick, and then potted and displayed at home. The photographer had returned, slowly walking with her neck crooked down at the screen of her Nikon. She stood scrolling, checking the shots she had just taken on our break, and the others began to heft their gear and get ready to continue the guided hike to what was left of the Lyell Glacier, only some 12.3 acres. I began to stuff my notebook and pens into my pack. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to gain from joining this guided hike all the way up here with a researcher. I knew how much the glacier had shrunk. Everyone knew how much the weather was changing. This guide was going because it was part of his research. He was going to record data about how far his stakes had moved since he was last here, and continue documenting the death of this glacier. What was I here to do? Was I doing my own kind of word-based photography, holding a moment captive in words? I was going to hike the mountain and find out I guess. Maybe get some good words out of the view. But what for? The others had started and so I pulled on my pack. I took one last look at the splitting pine, struggling to grow among stone.
THE WEDDING PARTY landed unscathed. They laughed and took photos. The bride, unharnessed, walked into the road while friends clapped their hands on the groom. There, in the middle of the road, smashed beyond hope of recognizing the missing slice, the wedding cake lay before her with its dud parachute.
SHE TELLS HER DREAMS to me while waking up, her eyes closed as she conjures the visions again. Rebels prepare an offense while she tries desperately to find lost keys and the theatre company argues. The dogs are running. She takes charge of the boat. Her mother moves to Texas for no reason, and I am angry with her for saying something about it. She falls out of the window, down into the street below, and lands in an enormous wedding cake. She wakes before she learns if she survives.
STUCK IN TRAFFIC for hours in the heat, eventually, nothing feels like a sin. We made eyes at each other in the stalled traffic across an old Datsun. When people left their cars to picnic on the shoulder, I invited her to come over. The wedding cake in the trunk was melting, and there was no sign that traffic would let up soon. When I showed her, she laughed. She apologized, but I took a gloppy hand of cake and threw it in her face. She spat frosting, and I laughed. She pushed me aside and threw goopy fondant all over me. We the smeared desecrated confection on each other in the oppressive glare.
This piece was first published in Voices Of Sacramento, A Sac State Anthology.
Stuart Livingston Canton