Two Boys of Ten
Two boys of ten were Eddie and me
I from November, He in February
And does comes the summer,
When both were taken to sea
To fish and to shrimp, Eddie and me.
I emptied my stomach again and again,
Hanging my spinning head over the railing,
Of the 65 foot trawler named the Southern Glory.
A wooden shrimp boat, scaling the front end
Of, ten foot seas, than sliding down the back side
Of each wave, before starting its next climb, and
Sliding, sometimes skidding, back down again
A never ending torturous roller coaster ride
I could not get off from.
It would be twenty days and nights before
We would return back to Port Isabel, safe
To the welcoming arms, of the Brazos de Santiago Pass,
And the tranquil waters of the Laguna Madre.
Eddie brought me some crushed ice in a tin cup.
He had seen my sickness and felt compassion for me.
He got the ice from the hull belly of the boat
Where just a few hours before was tied to the dock.
We had filled its` bins with one hundred,
One hundred pound bars of frozen ice blocks
Crushed and grinned into flakey shavings of
Snow cone snow used to keep the netted
Catch of Brown and white Gulf shrimp fresh.
“Eat this!” he said, keep eating it until you finish it.”
“When you finish it, I will bring you some more.”
“It won`t make you feel any better but at least
You will have something in your stomach until
The sea sickness passes”
“Thank you primo” I replied.
I watched him walk to the prow of the wave bucking boat.
He grabbed the anchor cabo-rope with both hands
And began to imitate a bronco busting cowboy.
With each jerking lift of giant wave after constant giant wave,
I stayed behind on the stern deck, asking myself in private anguish;
When will this torment feeling end?” Keep your eyes to the horizon!”
Eddie shouted back at me, “sometimes that helps ease the dizziness”
As he straddled the anchor, facing forward, riding the rough sea.
The Captain, Uncle Joe, steered the vessel steady ahead
Crashing against and cutting into the angry face of each
Tall foam crested swell that challenged our exploration.
Of its` body; the clear emerald water of the Gulf of Mexico,
He protectively watched both of us and thought it natural
How life and fate sets the course for two boys and their future.
One sick as can be, heaving green lime vile out of his aching belly.
Saying to himself, “what am I doing here?”
The other, content, standing at the front point of the boat
Anxiously waiting for the next big wave to come tubing over him.
Shaking, the salty sea spray off his wet body like a happy Labrador
Retriever shakes his coat free of water after a fun swim.
The summer did finally pass, that year when we were ten.
The fall school term soon followed, and so to my studies
I eagerly returned, I was now eleven, strong and sun tanned.
Eddie, decided was not enrolling for classes anymore.
He told his father so, he said, a sea man was what he wanted to be.
His father replied,” that’s fine with me, but remember this son,
“From this day forward, you shall belong to her, the sea I mean.
For she is a very possessive and jealous lover and will never set you free”
“If you’re lucky, she will let you live to be a crippled old man in constant
Pain, the result of all the many broken bones and over excreted muscles.
Retiring to a life of sitting in on a rocking chair, rolling yourself back and forth
On land, telling your grandchildren gathered around you, your sea stories
Or she will love you so much that she will someday or some night
Take you deep to the bottom and keep you there forever, just for her.”
That’s fine said Eddie; to his father… I love the sea.
Chasing and catching shrimp, that’s the life for me,
Schooling and school books he said, weren`t for he
The trade winds and tall rolling waves keep calling said he,
A Shrimper, a Rig man, a Captain, that`s the future for me.
Other summers followed, and I returned to the sea
To shrimp with Uncle Joe, and my cousin Eddie.
Each time, he fed me crushed ice for my sickness
I taught him some reading and writing skills too.
He taught me the compass, the fathoms, currents,
Winds, latitude lines, longitude lines and net mending, plus
He pointed to the millions of slivery stars at night.
There is the little dipper, there the big dipper, that is Venus,
That is Mars, Venus and Mars, love each other he said.
Just like the Moon and the Sun love each other, but
They can only love each other from a distance, never close.
“Amor de lejos.” They can never come together.
If they do, they will fight, kinda like cats and dogs fight.
There is the North Star. She will always let you know
Where south, east and west are, this way you will always
Be able to find you way, Eddie always knew
Where he was, at least when he was out at sea.
I went off to college, after my eighteenth summer.
Eddie sailed to the Bay of Campeche following the shrimp.
For the next four years, we saw each other only a few times.
I was busy studying, Eddie busy, sailing the Gulf of Mexico.
Shrimping and making every port of call from Tampico to Key West
Four years later, Captain Eddie attended my college graduation.
We shook hands; his were big, rough and calloused,
Mine were soft, not as big. He said he was proud of me
I told him, I too was proud of him for becoming a Lord at sea
More years passed, I as an academic,
Eddie as a sea voyaging Captain
He saved his money to purchase his dream.
A dream, he dreamed about during his many
Sleepless nights, at the wheel, navigating and steering
His way through the long dark lonely nights of
Shrimp season after shrimp season.
He bought, his very own shrimp boat,
Along with a brand new wool pea coat
To wear during the cold winters at sea
I went to the christening of his boat. The Lady Cora Lee,
A seventy four foot long steel hull trawler fully rigged.
We shook hands; his were still big rough and calloused
Mine still soft. I told him how proud I was of him.
I brought him a gift to wear
A Captains` hat for his head and good aura.
I asked him to take me along on his vessel`s maiden voyage
No sooner had we cleared the jetty, entering the wide open sea
When the contents of my stomach began to churn inside of me.
Moments later, what do I see? Eddie, extending the old tin cup
Filled to the top, with crushed ice, he said he had saved it for me.
He knew, I would be back some day to sail with him once again.
Even, if it was just for fun, so he kept the cup, I took it from his hand.
So there we were, two grown men, who once were lads of ten.
One was called by the deep blue sea, the other moored to land
Each destined to chart their own separate course in life,
Perhaps by fate, perhaps not, no matter, two blood brothers
Growing old together, nautical miles apart, my cousin, Eddie and me
Rudy H Garcia Summer 2010
Author: Rudy H. Garcia
Rudy H. García, from Port Isabel, Texas, has a Master’s in Education from the University of Texas at Brownsville and earned a B.A. in psychology from Pan American University in 1976. He is a participant in the Narciso Martínez Cultural Arts Center Writers’ Forum, and is a founder of the Laguna Madre Writers Forum. Rudy has also been featured on the radio program “Themes and Variations.” His poems are published with “Poets of the East Village” in New York and he has been a featured reader for the El Paseo Arts Foundation and is published in numerous other magazines.