IX. The Prodigal
In horror, Galen climbed the mast as high as he could go.
It quickly slipped beneath the waves. He fought the undertow.
Then as the deadened ship went down, a living orca came
In black and white with fearsome maw. Somehow it seemed quite tame
Though wild and unpredictable, in nature so complete.
As it approached, it lowered first and nudged at Galen’s feet.
By faith, he clambered on its back and held its dorsal fin.
They swam out of the undertow that tried to pull him in.
His deadly ride with power coursed across the northern sea
And bore him toward a place of undisclosed identity.
They travelled on for many days and then for some days more
Until the orca shook him off and pushed him to the shore.
He recognized the rocky coast, the cottage walls in white,
The person gazing back at him with look of stern delight.
He had not seen that wizened face for seven years, at least.
From obligation to return he had not been released.
His misadventures of the past careened within his brain.
He’d seen enough of tragedy to drive some men insane,
And as he kneeled and fought the surf, now sadder, not yet wise,
An undetermined stare betrayed the fire behind his eyes.
The prophet eyed him carefully. “I know where you have been,
To take your vengeance on a beast with help of doubtful men.
There was no time to do this right the first time that you tried,
But you have failed. The Kraken lives, and you have nearly died.
“Despite your humble circumstance and passion long denied,
I see some future benefit. Now here you will abide
To grow in strength and courage and to train your faculties
To trust in unseen help and learn to calm these troubled seas.
“An unclean vessel drew you forth. A better drew you back,
Authentic in its name, supplied to give you what you lack.
I see you have sufficiently been baptized by the sea.
Instead of striking forth alone, you should have come to me.”
The wayward man unsteadily arose to gain his feet,
Reluctantly, respectfully, his former friend to greet.
He stood and wavered, scarce could walk, not knowing what to say,
But there was peace between them both in fading light of day.
He staggered forward as a child, his elder within reach,
And longed to hear the principles that wiser men might teach.
Collapsing in the prophet’s arms, his vision now in doubt,
He managed but the faintest smile then groaned while passing out.