IMG_9900_2Sometimes I think I am still in the middle of the ocean. Last year my partner and I sailed to New York and back from Southampton. We had so many adventures and the trip affected us both so profoundly I was sure when we returned I’d start blogging like crazy. Instead radio silence. Well not quite.  Our travels have been sneaking their way – at a slant – into poems. And into dreams. I have been working on a new manuscript and it is hard to write anything else.

There is something too about sailing away to another continent. It’s not fast track. But it is wholly magnificent, especially if you are fortunate enough to sail on the Queen Mary 2. Afterwards people asked us: what do you do all day? And: what is there to see? Everything and nothing are the answers although that’s where it gets muddled up.


You can imagine how people went mad at sea. Nothing but water and sky, sky and water. Water and sky. Though the colours change all the time, every day. Blue isn’t an inadequate word. No birds. No animals. (One day porpoise were sighted but I missed them.) A meditation on nothingness. One day it is paler blue, a few little clouds on the horizon. Blue, blue, blue. Next day grey capped with small white breakers. Foam. A fine drizzle in the air. Dispersing. The sky swollen, puffy with white cloud. Dull but at same time a glare assaulting the eyes because of the sheer expanse of sky and light. The next day a mist which makes even the nothing vanish.

IMG_9901_2Really this is the headline event, the main stage. I find I can’t take my eyes off it. Everything else is a diversion, make believe. And there is so much on board to distract you. Shops that sell pricey wrist watches, perfumes, necklaces. Shows with comedians, live bands. Black tie dinners and dances. Dressing up! Talks in the planetarium. Even some poetry, jazz. A library. Quizzes. Bars. You can learn to dance or play bridge. There are treadmills and whirlpools, white linen, fresh towels. Friends of Dorothy and of Bill W. Someone could rub your feet or your back. The food is delicious, sumptuous. Meeting new people. You chat over cocktails: where are you going? Will you stay long? Are you on your way home or just setting out? Is this your first time? Oh no, say the old hands, we’ve been many times…Endless swaying from deck A to B.

We sail fairly near the spot where the Titanic was lost. We are sailing in comfort for the sheer pleasure of it. Elsewhere others in tiny, leaking boats are crossing seas to escape from persecution. We hear of crew members and passengers who have jumped over board. When we have to put on life jackets and be counted for a safety drill we laugh like children. We complain because none of our devices will work properly. We are living in a floating complex, a bubble the size of a village, miles away from anywhere, surrounded by nothing.

The staff are courteous, almost kind, as if they know all it takes is one look out at the horizon and everything disappears. Then you return to nothing but water and sky, sky and water. It’s there every morning. And last thing at night the ocean rocks you to sleep, rocks you all night long. At 20.1 knots in our case. Always the same ocean. Never the same ocean twice.