Salao

Dear readers, presenting a ballad.  A salao air.

Ah yes, to be salao.

…as told by two bards: Ernest Hemingway and Glen Hansard.

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.  In the first forty days a boy had been with him.  But after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish the first week.  It made the boy sad to see the old man come in each day with his skiff empty and he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast.  The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

_____

He felt faint again now but he held on the great fish all the strain that he could.  I moved him, he thought.  Maybe this time I can get him over.  Pull, hands, he thought.  Hold up, legs.  Last for me, head.  Last for me.  You never went.  This time I’ll pull him over.

But when he put all of his effort on, starting it well out before the fish came alongside and pulling with all his strength, the fish pulled part way over and then righted himself and swam away.

“Fish,” the old man said.  “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway, Do you have to kill me too?”

…You are killing me, fish, the old man thought.  But you have a right to.  Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother.  Come on and kill me.  I do not care who kills who.

_____

He knew he was beaten now finally and without remedy and he went back to the stern and found the jagged end of the tiller would fit in the slot of the rudder well enough for him to steer.  He settled the sack around his shoulders and put the skiff on her course.  He sailed lightly now and he had no thoughts nor any feelings of any kind.  He was past everything now and he sailed the skiff to make his home port as well and as intelligently as he could.  In the night sharks hit the carcass as someone might pick up crumbs from the table.  The old man paid no attention to them and did not pay any attention to anything except steering.  He only noticed how lightly and how well the skiff sailed now there was no great weight beside her.

…He could feel he was inside the current now and he could see the lights of the beach colonies along the shore.  He knew where he was now and it was nothing to get home.

The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought.  Then he added, sometimes.  And the great sea with our friends and our enemies.  And bed, he thought.  Bed is my friend.  Just bed, he thought.  Bed will be a great thing.  It is easy when you are beaten, he thought.  I never knew how easy it was.

_____

Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again.  He was still sleeping on his face and boy was sitting by him watching him.  The old man was dreaming about the lions.

_____

(excerpts) The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway.

Disappointed, The Frames, sung by Glen Hansard.

What happens when the heart just stops, Glen Hansard and The Frames.

Into the Mystic, Van Morrison, sung by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

Glen Hansard

Thank you Glen.  A boy needs heroes.  You are one of mine.

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