Miguel and Paloma
y beautiful Paloma, there was a time in my life when I was not calm. I was a vessel with a tattered sail tossed about in an ominous sea.
As a young man, I had become quite restless and when I finally was of age I went to sea. It was no place for a young boy, but the closeness to death every week helped me grow the body of a man and the mind followed. We were a rough bunch and I always tried to remain a gentleman. I studied while at sea and read great books of poetry and works by the great philosophers.
I had a vivid imagination and began to invent my life in my head and heart. One day I would pull into port and be a rich ship owner and have my choice of women. I would drink the finest rum from Barbados and live the life of a man of means. Although the adventure was an invention of my mind, my heart was hollow like a gourd or a float in the sea. I had nothing inside of me. No passion, no excitement.
I kept the Captain happy with what he needed. I was his “fetch-it-boy” and I did my job well. Through it all, always sad, although I was awarded many doubloons. I began to write of these feelings of loneliness and the desire to meet and mate with some exotic beauty. It was all fantasy. I allowed the men to read the sheaths and those nights they read, more rum flowed before they retired early to a sad bunk.
They had respect for me, as I was a scholar and a poet. They were men who could not read well but had saved my life that once. We were mixed in the blood as brothers at sea sometimes are. There was more, they dreamed as I did of you, Paloma, my gardenia.
In Majorca we filled the galley and took on medicine and more rum and it was my job to provision the vessel. I was a great barterer and they always sent me because of my young countenance and shrewd manner. Many purveyors lost money as I talked them into deals that compromised their profit. They knew not of their fleecing until I had the men carry the purchases to the ship.
You, my only love, Paloma, were sitting by yourself in a small café and dressed in a dark manner. I do not remember what you wore, only your eyes and your lovely skin. You captured me the very moment I saw you. I stammered something to the bartender and he gave me a tankard, and I asked him to bring you something. He said, “Sir, I would love to take your money, but she will refuse, she has never had a drink with another, though she’s been coming here for quite a long time.”
I drank my brew and stared at your azure eyes. All of a sudden you looked up and beckoned me to your table, to which I flew like a schoolboy. You said these words to me. “Sir, I see you staring at me and want to offer me a libation. I know what is floating through your mind as many other have thought the same. You must know I am a widow and my husband has been tossed at sea to breathe water and never air again.
“I have sat here and at my home missing him for two years, and today is the last day of mourning. You are a handsome boy, shy and strong. I like that in a man. But you must do one thing. Yu must prove to me that you have great wisdom, as I will not dally with an ignorant runt of the sea.”
So I pulled out some of my writings and watched as she read; hours seemed to float by like a cormorant at sea. Sometimes she wept, other times she laughed heartily, unlike a maiden, but with gusto. She caressed the sheaths as she read them and then would look up at me. And as I tell this tale as if you aren’t by my side, dearest Paloma, I must say I swam in your gaze and was purified.
After you finished reading and going through so many emotions, you told me one thing. Miguel, sailor of storm-laden seas, if you want me, you will sail no more, as I will allow no husband of mine to again be devoured by the unforgiving ocean. I need a man to hold me at night and not just dream of me. Be my suitor and my partner. You will live here in Majorca in my garden and if you choose, the closest you will get to the sea is to bathe in it.
I thought for a split second only, called the men from the bar, returned the doubloons to the Captain, told him to keep my share, and sent them packing with abundant provisions.
Paloma, I have never missed the sea, I have sailed in your bed to seas no one has been. I have had adventures with you no man can imagine. I have learned to write in a scholarly fashion and have some regard from the local gentry. My greatest joy is that wherever we are and whenever we walk into a room, I am always with the most beautiful and kindest woman imaginable. Paloma, you have saved me from a fate that left me empty and today and every day I devote to your joy. To those that wonder, she never spoke again of the husband of the sea.
copyright by Michael (Miguel) Forbus for the Doctor