Brake Light

Ingrid Kloser
Brake Light
Loose lines are like loose thoughts. A tired head remains upright when facing headwind. Tired, not from yesterday, the day before, or last year. Just tired. Leaving, slowly chugging out of the harbour. Wind caressing the face. Initially staying close to the bay, not yet setting the sails. Dropping anchor. Sitting on the deck and smoking. Waiting for the red ball of fire.
A dive into the green water. A dull thud on the head. Submerge and resurface. The warmth of sleep disappears in the cold water. Dreams and old thoughts as well. Strong thrusts to swim. Savouring the tension in the loins. Three times around the boat. A duck is startled and runs a few steps across the water. The nose above the surface, lips tightly pressed together. Swimming through soft feathers that are rocking in the water. Sensing something like unity. Last round backstroke, kicking the legs. So full of relish. Whitish sky. The sun has risen. Climbing up the latter. Shivering body, still empty of thoughts. Skin and body are gladly being rubbed with a towel. The toes too. Toes are peculiar creatures. Now thoughts do come to light. Wanting to spend every hour in a meaningful way. Wanting to write these hours down on a piece of paper to add them up. Afterwards presenting this day’s calculation. Reading a book. The files. Three phone calls. Making use of the connection. Then leaning back and enjoying the evening. Since you have gotten something done.
In the cabin it smells like coffee. It. Smells. Like coffee. Smells like home. Wanting to come home my whole life long. Feeling it in my chest. On the table a loaf of bread lies on a wooden cutting board. Butter and jam. Recalling what a slice of bread and butter tastes like. The butter wrapper lies open. Scrape it off with the knife. Cutting off slices of bread one after another. A ray of light glides through the berth. Thousands of tiny dancers are twitching. Hungrily chew a piece of bread with butter and jam. Feeling luxury. Fishing boats on the water getting louder, quieter. The boat is swaying. Plates, cups, knives sliding. A buzzing from around the mast. It all means: being on a boat.
Three files today, two tomorrow. Working in the shade of the sun sail. Permitted to stand up only after finishing one hundred pages. And three more phone calls. At noon the sun is vertical up in the sky. There is a gentle breeze. One could work, since the lake is calm. Could. Would. Should. Instead, sauté an onion, cook pasta. Wanting to work later. Turning the onion in the hot oil. It’s a gimbal cooker. Very convenient, as it moves with every wave. The waves. Balancing out the rocking movements when standing. The body is constantly in motion, therefore the weariness at night. Being otherwise tired aboard the boat. Spaghetti being crushed between the teeth evoke images of scraped knees. Scab scratching all summer long. Small bags of parmesan cheese. Cut the corner, cheese trickles out. Knees no longer hurting. Stubborn worms slipping from the fork. Getting sucked in through the lips. Splattering onto my t-shirt. All is well when going to bed. Swaying.
During the night, waves knock on the hull. Falling asleep. Waking up. A signal sound from somewhere off in the distance. Screeching gulls not so far away. Rocked like a baby. Out on the deck, a cool breeze awakens the skin. The boat, an island. Boat thoughts are different. A beloved face is not just a face. It is a touch. Feeling it all over the body as infatuation turns into love. Swimming in the black water. Three times around the boat. The duck. Vigorously rubbing the body. Bundling up in a blanket. Smoking. The lights on the shore, sensing unity again. The ball appears out of nowhere. What day is it? In the cabin a scent of coffee. There is bread and butter and jam. The skin smells of water. Still cool. As if the body was still swimming. The bread mush in my mouth begins to taste sweet, even without jam. Once again a taste of home. On the chart table, on the dial of the ship’s clock, the pointer twitches quietly, sparing the mind. Do something meaningful today. Sailing for example. Sailing is by all means presentable. One can tell about having sailed from here to there. A book can also to be mentioned. And of course work. But it can be so wonderful to just lie at anchor. Like Robinson on his island. There may be less to tell about. Palpitations cannot be photographed.
Scrubbing the deck with a handle brush. Such filth. The muddy soup runs from the deck, dripping into the green water. Sweating. Finally sweating again! Working with a cigarette between the lips. Feeling like being in a movie. Feeling super comfortable. Sweeping the wood clean in every corner. Nothing to be left out. No end in sight. Then diving into the water once again. A familiar thud on the head. Submerge. Resurface. The duck has become my old neighbour. Rubbing the toes. Toes are peculiar creatures. Cooking spaghetti. This time with garlic. Balancing out the waves. Almost being too tired to stand upright. What time is it? The sun is already making the water sparkle. Chewing pasta. Satisfying true hunger. Feeling the warmth as it slides downward. Rays of sunshine fall through the skylight, warming part of the forearm skin. In that moment, loving the little skylight, the forearm, the skin, the sun. Pasta mush in the mouth. Is this true bliss? Cleaning out the pan with the finger and licking it off. Having a smoke out on the deck. Contently looking at the shiny wood. Sweeping remaining bristles into the water with the tip of the toe. Feeling my arms. Sitting at the front of the bow letting my feet dangle. Not setting sail, not disturbing the silence. Maybe brushing the hull with the scrubber tomorrow. It needs to be done while swimming. It’s a strenuous job. But I am already feeling energy for it. A small can of tomatoes is left in the cupboard above the gimbal cooker. An onion is dangling in a net above the little sink. Eating spaghetti with tomato sauce. Sweating. Submerging. Resurfacing. Greeting the duck. Giving her a nod. Suddenly being so in love with those toes. The big ones at the top of the pyramid. Loving the dear faces even more deeply. No files. No phone calls. No book.
Legs dangling over the rail. Waiting for the fireball.
The brake light of day.

Translation by Shan Wardell
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