Just a Captain Cook*

Slick, fertile pages of ever-sunny blooming brochures
slip through her avid fingers. She dreams, charts and plots
trips she can never take. From these drifting mind-spores
she grows a giant ship-mushroom and visits hot-spots;
deep-tanned Fiji, jungly Vanuatu and accented ‘France
of the Pacific’, the model thin, elegant exclamation
of la Nouvelle Calédonie. Oh, the tight clenched dance
she dances, the deep-shelf oceanic love she finds, from
one sun-bathing island to the next! Tough travel agents
recognise addiction, her joyous, fungal procrastination,
and refuse to meet those longing, sea-kissed eyes. Graven
idols, their books are like shiny trinkets flogged at micro-nations.
She knows, they know, she can’t go; only sigh and contemplate
the spiced salad of rain-forest, and the waltz of ideal mate.

P.S. Cottier

*Captain Cook is rhyming slang for look.

Unlike the woman in that poem, I recently returned from a cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. Ah cruising. Where you get to watch people who should be on a diet of water and grapefruit and the occasional bread roll on special occasions scoffing down lunch at one restaurant, so they can waddle almost quickly to the buffet and scoff some more.

Actually, my recent cruise did me much good, as the surrounding atmosphere of rolling obesity led me to rediscover the gym. My husband went twice a day (well, he eats meat, including bacon, so that’s only appropriate). I only managed a few kilometres walk outside each day (and stuck to fruit for breakfast) but I did venture into the gym and remembered what I loved about weights: namely pushing oneself until one almost needs to vomit. And having unacknowledged, one-sided, nonsensical competitions with twenty-five year old men. I must really like losing, at some level.

Upon return to life as a landlubber, I have enrolled in a gym where they ring you up if you don’t show up for a session. I have recently lost weight, so it seems a good time to pick some up. I start tomorrow. It will either kill me or make me indulge in the strong weighty drug of cliché.

Speaking of which, I also rediscovered cocktails on the cruise, which contain absolutely no calories at all. I remembered what I love about them: namely pushing oneself until one almost needs to vomit. No, not really. I love having just the one. (That is so beyond a lie.)

We saw some beautiful places on the trip, including the Isle of Pines, where I went snorkelling on my birthday. I also inflicted my French on the locals, and I’m glad they didn’t declare war on Australia as a result. Here I am later that day, hopping into my one drink for the evening. (If you still believe that, I toss a mixture of pity and contempt in your direction with my soon to be stronger, Glenn McGrathy, arms.)

I am sitting up too straight for this to a be true representation

Yes, occasionally the thought ‘is this a good thing to be doing?’ intruded itself into my head. Particularly when we stopped (sorry, ‘anchored’,) near The Isle of Pines and I realised that there were probably more people on the ship than usually live on the island. So very many mostly happy Australians decamping en masse (seasoned with a bevy of New Zealanders and a few inexplicably svelte Japanese). How does a cruise ship impact upon the local culture and the environment? Is it a better way to travel than flying? (At least we caught the train to Sydney. Not many cruise ships leave from Canberra, for some undeclared but possibly nautical reason.) When these thoughts threatened to break upon the tiny Isle of Cogency, you can probably guess how I dealt with the situation.

Have you ever had an Amaretto Sour?

Tuesday Poem
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