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At the Marina

I share an office with mermaids and 1,800 books. The mermaids are brass and glass, all but one, a cardboard cutout which hangs from the ceiling. At this moment my window is open, and she is bobbing in billows of honeysuckled air. Too many ships have docked on my shelves. Cleaning out a closet is as easy for me as shucking oysters, but I would rather wrestle a walrus on an ice floe than give away one page of my library. My eye is on "Semantics and Necessary Truth" by Arthur Pap, a volume I failed to fathom ten years ago and have not riffled since, but it is hawsered to my heart even so. Beckett's "Murphy," face down on my file cabinet, is as safe as a barnacle on a sunken ship, and Quine's "Quiddities," anchored between "Jude the Obscure" and "Moby Dick," will never hoist a sail. Can I stand to strand "A Short History of English" by Henry Wyld? I could drop it, I suppose, in the paper poke near the window, which swells with castoff clothes bound for the Cape of Good Will, but only a pirate would abandon an old shipmate in this fashion. No empty moorings for now.

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