Dry Dock

They’ve all been pulled from the water and now line the edge of the harbour. A row of them, their blue and white paint curling and chipped. Sewin, Sea Pearl and Blue Dolphin, I memorised their names as I walked home. All small fishing boats, the bobbing sort that Dylan Thomas wrote of. They need attending to. The sea has taken its toll. Out of the water, safe, dry. In dry dock. A wall of boats and lobster pots. Too cold to stink as they usually do. I couldn’t walk the Perygyl, didn’t dare it was too frosty and I might slip. Careful, you might slip. Take care. Beware. Danger. There was a play on the radio yesterday as I prepared lunch about an Antarctic expedition that Scott’s men took. Just three of them, a separate trek in search of penguins’ eggs. In such conditions. They cried out in pain. All ten fingers frostbitten in temperatures that exceeded minus 70. I cannot imagine such cold. I’ve been in minus 15 maybe minus 20 and that was enough. My skin hurt, my breath hurt. The body wants to finish, to stop. In the play, clearly taken from diaries, they struggled to bend. Iron burnt. There was no rest from it. Sleep was impossible. Teeth chattered incessantly. Why do it? Why pit oneself against such elements? We are not meant for it. Is that transcending?

He fretted and we snapped. Both of us. Best leave it to them. It was a mistake, anyone can make mistakes. Oh, I make a big noise at the beginning. I have to let it out but then, then I want to help, to make him easy with it all. The man professed to be fair. He isn’t. It is too much and it has made him careworn. Leave it to them. They will take care of it. Chalk it down to experience. The important thing is how did we deal with it. Were we kind?

How about if I ask people to read to me? Yes. That is it. Act of listening, of sharing, of intimacy. I can remain silent. Language is no problem. It is the sharing, the sounds, the giving over of something precious.

Read to Me. Talk to Me. Call Me.

Read it Mummy.

Read it.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.