Barnacles in Amsterdam
Doug Mathewson

The older shipyards of Amsterdam shelter from the Northern Sea in the southwest corner of the old harbor. Ship building moved to ports with cheaper labor years ago. Royal Haskoning Maritime and the others only do repairs and maintenance on older deep water craft. Sailors had a funny song, a part of which said In Amsterdam, they say, all barnacles will fall away."

Men and women accumulate so many barnacles as we rush and gush along, as we plod and stumble through our many days. One by one these cirripede crustaceans find us, gaining weight and mass. They drag upon us, making us stutter and finally stall. Movement becomes no longer possible. Can Amsterdam make them fall away? Hashish for barnacles of the mind. Prostitution for barnacles of the body. The beauty of the city itself and its people for barnacles of the soul.

But what of the ones that cling the very tightest, the barnacles that grip my heart? Amsterdam can do nothing for these. They may only be loosened in my lovers arms. On that day, all barnacles will fall away, and we shall swim anew playful and sleek, like eels through the salt grasses under the summers fullest moon.

First published: February, 2008
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