24 January 2012

O Captain

"A look like that could shatter glass, it could," said Ernie, the old sailor.

A clang of tumblers came from the bar, seeming to punctuate his statement. The seaside pub was fairly empty this afternoon; it was a slow day for fish, too.

Mick threw back his beer and hummed noncommittally. The old sailor always went on poetically about looks and legs and other parts of the female outfit. Sure, the ladies interested Mick; he just wasn't a fan of Ernie's poetry. It rocked like the sea with enjambment and free meter. Mick was a purist. Give him a sonnet any day, he said, and he could live a happy life. But Ernie was a fine old sailor, and one to be respected, so Mick just mmmed and ah-hahed and nodded whenever Ernie waxed.

Tom was young, though, and had no ear for the stuff; yet, he was eager to learn. "Say, Ernie," he said, "what do you mean by that?"

"What, Tom? What did I mean by what?"

"You know, the look shattering glass. I've never seen someone shatter glass just by looking at it."

Ernie rolled the toothpick around in his mouth as he looked out onto the pier. "It's a metaphor, Tom. Just a metaphor."

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