Banana Boat Part 1     A true story

Mark, Marita and Steve built a fibreglass boat. They painted it yellow and named it Banana Boat. Mark, Marita and Steve were all banned from driving for DUI. It fell to me to drive us all plus tents, kids and Banana Boat to the River Wye for a maiden boat trip.

We found a good spot to camp in the Wye Valley next to the river, a short way up from a troop of boy scouts. Mark, Marita and Steve got stuck into the beer stash as soon as I parked the car.

hay moon
grasses move among
the insects

Putting up tents is a job best done while sober. The lack of coordination, together with collapsing tent poles required further ingestion of acholic beverages. So Mark, Marita and Steve had another drink while they rested. Irritated, I made lunch for the kids, and continued to struggle alone to create order out of chaos.

serious conversation
the raucous laughter
of a seagull

There was a lovely country pub two miles upriver. Mark proposed that we get a move on if we were to make it before closing time. Mark and Steve tied their beer stash together with string and sunk it in the edge of the river to keep cool for later.

We discovered that Banana Boat was very unstable, especially when boarding while drunk. Mark and Marita were both tossed into the river while Steve gave advice about balancing. It was decided that we all needed to get in at the same time, evenly distributed, with the two kids in the middle. After much swaying, and nearly falling in, we all managed to cling on while we embarked on our journey to the pub, with Marita rowing.

The pub was wonderfully restful. We sat in the beautiful garden sipping our drinks in the summer sunshine. The children played happily together. Mark, Marita and Steve were all well-pickled by closing time.

contemplating my

We reckoned that the downriver trip back to our tents would be much easier. Marita and Steve decided to swim back to the tents, leaving Mark and me to return in Banana Boat with the kids.

Getting into the boat was difficult. It was decided that I would get in first, then the kids in the middle, then Mark last. Mark, who could barely stand up, launched himself horizontally into the boat, thereby capsizing it, and tipping the rest of us, fully clothed, into the river.

I was paralytic with laughter, but the children were not amused. Shocked, wet and tired, they both floundered chest deep in cold water, screaming as if they were being eaten by piranhas. Mark lay giggling and wriggling helplessly in the river, unable to stand up. I managed to drag Mark into the boat, then I ushered the kids to sit on either side of him. Waterborne, at last, we floated effortlessly back to our tents.

Upon arrival back at camp, we noticed the horrified expressions on Marita and Steve’s faces.

“The beer’s gone!” yelled Steve.
“Did you take the beer, you two?” shouted Marita.
“No, has someone nicked it? Maybe the scouts?” suggested Mark, who was too drunk to care.

I fed the kids and put them to bed in the tent. That evening after our campfire meal, Banana Boat, having a mind of its own, went missing. But that is another story.

heron’s scream
wings settle in
dune shadows

Banana Boat Part 2

Banana Boat Disappears Reappears

After our campfire meal, Marita and I went to wash the dishes in the river, while Mark and Steve, who considered their refusal to wash dishes to be the last bastion of their masculinity, cracked open another beer.

Suddenly Marita cried, “Where’s the boat? Hey! The boat’s gone!”
“What?” yelled Mark. “Has someone nicked our boat?”

Mark and Steve, suddenly sober, ran to help our frantic search in the overgrowth by the river.

“Where did you leave it?” asked Steve, looking at me.
“Just here,” I replied.
“Didn’t you tie it up?” demanded Mark.

All three shouted at me, accusingly. I threw up my arms in protest and said:
“It may be my job to wash the dishes, look after the kids, and drive you all everywhere, but it is not my job to tie up boats!”

meandering stream
losing my sense
of purpose
Mark and Steve reckoned that most likely Banana Boat had drifted on down river towards Monmouth, and decided to set off on foot to the bridge a mile or two downriver and watch for the boat drifting down.

Marita and I reckoned that it was most likely the men would end up in the pub in Monmouth, and would return with no boat. We made tea on the fire then lay down to look at the stars while we waited.

It was a beautiful clear starry night. We lay on our backs pointing out the constellations we could identify. Suddenly we both spotted a shooting star, then another, and another. Then we tracked one shooting star, as it flew across the sky towards another shooting star travelling towards it from the opposite direction. We both watched as the two shooting stars stopped dead when they were close to each other, hovered there for a minute or so, then both stars took off together in a parallel formation at 90 degrees to their previous courses at an enormous speed. Within seconds they had disappeared as if they were never there.

“What? “Did you see that?”
“Yes! What are they?”
“Whatever they are, they are intelligent or controlled by intelligent beings.”
“They can’t be Earth-made. What Earth-made craft can manoeuvre like that, stop, turn and shoot off again at 90 degrees, and at that speed?”
“They were communicating with each other!”
And we continued like that until the men staggered back from the pub, drunker than before, with no boat.

twilight stream
the first bend
on the star

The next morning as we struggled to wake up to the bright dawn, we heard a voice from the other side of the river shouting:

“Excuse me! Have you lost a boat?” It was a man walking his dog.
“Yes!!!” we all shouted in unison.

The man pointed to an area a few yards away from us on the other side of a thicket of nettles. We peered through the nettles and could see patches of yellow. Banana Boat! It had been just a few yards away from us the whole time!

hallucination —
veiled in morning mist
wild mushrooms

© Martha Magenta

Failed Haiku Senryu Journal Vol. 1, Iss 12, December 1. 2016

About Martha Magenta

Martha Magenta is an award-winning haiku poet living in Bristol, England, UK. She has a passion for herbalism, gardening, veganism, animal rights, Earth and the environment. She has worked for ActionAid, and Friends of the Earth. Her poetry, haiku, haibun, senryu, and tanka have appeared in many journals, magazines, and anthologies. She was awarded first, second and third prizes and Honourable Mentions in contests for haiku, tanka and haibun in 2017 - 2019. She is listed on The European Top 100 haiku authors, 2017 and 2018. She collects her published work on a blog: https://marthamagenta.com/
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