In Morro Bay (1587)

     "Industry comforts us, hard work with no respite,
provided only that the elements do not rage while
we are at work."
                                       ~ M.C. Escher, "Beehive," from
                                           XXIV Emblemata, 1931


Hardwood from our forests, then knuckle-
bruised years of hewing and planing. We knew 
how to lash thousands of trees into a vessel 
that would sail half the year to carry silver 
and gold, porcelain, teak and tea, silks 
and cinnabar to worlds most of us 
would not see. Those of us who did
sail endured hunger and sickness, maggots 
in our food, poisonous water. We swung
our bloated bellies in hammocks, the hold
made more humid by our pummeling
despair. Tragedy and mutinies; slow
death. Bleeding gums, teeth fallen
out of our mouths. In Morro Bay,
touching land again for the first time:
shadow of its rock on water a portal
through which we passed. 
  

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