Crossing The Line by Lynn White

As the ship drew closer to the line
the sea king began to lick his lips in anticipation
of the fat fresh tadpoles which Big O and his waiters
would serve on his return from the ceremony.
Of course,
tadpoles that could swim in the ocean were unknown,
but Big O knew that the frogs on the ship
would have given birth long before the line was crossed.
They were the king’s favourite party food
and he had already a collection of shells to serve them in.
He had been training the waiters for some time.
He always did when they heard
that a ship was approaching the line.
His octopuses were in great demand.
With eight arms they were the king’s waiters of choice
and he had more standing by ready to become wine waiters.
They would serve the rum that would be gifted
when the king went on board
and roared
and waved his sceptre around a bit
and struck the deck with three loud raps
to signal his judgement on which tadpoles
should become food for his homecoming party
and which he could call his sons and trust
to raise frogs to supply his future treats.
The octopuses waited wondering how hard they must work
before the king and his retinue were sated and sleepy
from fat tadpoles
and watery rum.
It would all depend on the bargain struck on board,
tadpoles for now or more tadpoles for later,
rum for the king, or more rum for the waiters.
Big O always tried to assess the king’s mood before
he made his judgement.
It would be a clue as to how many shells would be needed
after the ceremony.
Small shells were easy for the waiters to collect,
but the large ones to hide the rum for later
were hard work and needed several arms
to fill them and stash them in the sand out of sight
for when the king and his followers slept.
As always the sleeping king dreamt
of octopuses dancing drunkenly
on his table
and was that Big O wearing his crown?
He woke, combed the weed from his hair,
retrieved his crown from under the table and pondered.
Did he really see it on the head of Big O in his dream?
Recurring dreams were such a strange thing, he mused.
Then, puzzled he surveyed the broken shells
on the table.
He wondered how they came to be broken.
Had his dream come true?
He straightened his crown
and looked for his sceptre
to bang on the ground.
He really must speak with Big O.
Somehow, he thought,
a line had been crossed.

© 2019 Lynn White


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Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Vagabond Press, Light Journal and So It Goes Journal.

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