QUINQUIRIME OF NINEVAH from distant Ophir, rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine, went down in a storm. Her cargo of ivory and apes, peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood and sweet white wine instantly spoiled, the sea alive with struggling primates, tangles of cordage, and drowning caged birds. Down she went in thirty fathoms of dark green salt water. The air cleared, the wind died and in a pitiful few minutes, no sign at all remained that anything had happened. A long-lived octpod took up residence in an empty jar. Amphorae stacked in the hold and jewel casks sealed three times with lead and hidden away in the captain's cabin did quite well against marine worms and corrosion. Every now and then something came bubbling up to the surface to mark the spot, but since nobody saw it the event scarcely mattered. Silted over, barely a dimple marked the bottom after a couple of millennia skipped by. Random pieces floating up to the surface from the wrecks littering the sea floor, words without sentences, faces without names. The eyes' clear mirror clouds with a squall, while deep below the fishes feast on dead men.

March 19, 1994

Flotsam "Quinquirime of Ninevah . . . " first line of the poem "Cargoes" by John Masefield (1878 - 1967).

"After a storm comes a calm." - Matthew Henry (1662 - 1714) Commentaries, Acts 9 (1708 - 1710)