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“THE BORGES CURE” AND THE NEAR-BURIED BOAT

A boat buried in the sand in Ptown.

It was a fine Easter Sunday in Ptown—warm enough to take off my shoes and walk along the beach behind 6A’s seasonally-shuttered hotels. The rash of violent weather earlier in the week[1] had left more detritus than usual; I can always find small broken shells, but on that day, the beach was littered with so much uprooted seaweed the landscape resembled a scalp-peppered battlefield. I found skate cases, crab molts, a few dead fish, and posts from damaged piers. But the most interesting thing I came across was a near-buried boat.

A corner of the stern and part of the hull were still visible—even though its bow was completely buried to the point where it was impossible to tell there was anything under the sand at all. Although the vinyl letters that spelled out Kitti Wake were in relatively decent shape, I don’t know how long the boat had been there; it seems to me it would have taken awhile for it to get buried that deeply, but with the wildness of the ocean around Ptown, who knows?

I made a connection between this almost-buried boat and the intensely sad, elegantly rendered story “The Borges Cure” by Lynne Barrett.[2] The piece opens with a woman’s recollection of a night decades earlier when she and her then “almost-former lover”[3] spy the writer Borges on an escalator. Following the couple’s split, the woman struggles to understand and quell the pain by “read[ing] and re-read[ing]”[4] Borges work “when I was unable to sleep.”[5] Although she is confident that the Borges cure “will rid me of all but this old healed hurt, like a vaccination scar in a spot I can’t view without some contortion,”[6] the story’s last line reads: “I could, I think, forget him [the lover] completely, if only I had not been with him when I saw Borges, which makes him unforgettable.”[7]

I stood looking at the near-buried Kitti Wake and thought. It’s obvious the woman in the story needs to bury the memory of her lover so that she can move on with her life, but she doesn’t necessarily want to—otherwise she wouldn’t have chosen the very activity that reminds her of him as her shovel. She wants to hang on to that single night, perhaps because of its magic. How many of us do that? We bury most of what we need to forget, but don’t see the harm in leaving some of it above-ground, perhaps so we can find it again. What happens then, though, is that a sharp edge is left exposed—one that can poke us and hurt us all over again at any time, and sometimes when we least expect it.

The tons of junk that had been washed ashore in the recent violent weather.

It was warm enough on Easter Sunday to walk in the sand barefoot.

A crab carapace and skate cases on the beach.

Driftwood.

The start of the bow of the buried boat.


[1] The storm on Tuesday, March 30, 2010 was so intense that not only were drains overflowing on Commercial Street in the East End, “The Pier Corp.’s crane barge sank,” according to the April 1 edition of The Provincetown Banner. You can read that article here: http://www.wickedlocal.com/provincetown/features/x1664785677/Provincetown-harbormaster-grapples-with-double-trouble

[2] “The Borges Cure” was published on March 22, 2010 as Firebox Fiction in Night Train. You can read the story here: http://www.nighttrainmagazine.com/contents/barrett_fb.php

[3] Lynne Barrett, “The Borges Cure,” Night Train March 22, 2010, http://www.nighttrainmagazine.com/contents/barrett_fb.php.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

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