Holland Haven

Whole and haven. Hole and Haven. Haven is only one letter short of Heaven. A place named Holland? Perhaps the Netherlands, the Heathen Lands, the Heaven Lands, the Heaving Lands after some holocaust of tides and coastal warming. Whole with a w is quite alien to the concept of hole without a w. But most unlikely it is the Holland as in the flattened and the windswept, those fens and dykes of the Below Lands, a place that, in the Double Dutch tongue, in that untranslatable Weirdtongue, has a name usually employed to label the wastes of time and space as threaded by all lost sailors of the living world.

Yet we know the name more simply as Waterworld, a land hidden by unseasonable tides, a land that we all dream about from time to time, and, even if this name is lost in translation, we know it is some kind of haven or harbour for our boats when storms unexpectedly cause us to race towards Waterworld’s shimmery coast, a coast that some of us call Haven or Heaven, others of us call Hell or Hole.

Juses stood upon that unstable coast as only one with that name could stand upon it, as part of it, liquid coast and liquid man as one, juice with juice, mixed like a cocktail without a stick. He was once a Dutchman who had painted landscapes, but it was so ironical that his fate was to harbour himself in a land without landscapes at all. He raised a slanted edge of hand to his watering eyes as if in salute, but it was to protect his sight from the bright core of coastal warming positioned above where distant sea met a rippling horizon of distant sky. He had seen one of our boats plying its way toward the part of the coast where he waded in it. Or where it hugged him higher than wading boots could ever reach.

Juses had prepared himself to welcome the sighted boat into the relatively safe harbour or moated arbour that he called Holland Haven. He visualised the painting he might once have painted in oils or acrylics, but now in the water colour of his imagination: a seascape with a single solitary sail melting into or melting out of the worms of coastal warming that wriggled along the horizon’s length, such worms’ core or singularity firming and forming somewhat into a greyly coiled sun setting for the night amid its own tides of encroaching darkness. It was good that the boat looked as if it would soon reach the part of the coast wherein Juses’ feet were sunk, reaching it before any light in the Dutch Master’s water colour painting finally died.

He watched me carefully as I eventually disembarked from what had once been a boat. He dared not assist me, in case he sank into me, or me into him, thus prematurely destroying any separateness between us. I felt relieved that I had managed the voyage at all, reaching this relatively firm coast before the liquid light had spilled from the vessel of the sky.

I had been travelling forever, it seemed, during the rocking dreams of sleep that my fixed waking body had undergone while still on solid land. I had reached Holland Haven at last, I thought. I was on the brink of a wave’s culmination, the cusp of moment with moment, juice with juice. No sea defences needed at Holland Haven, because the sea and land had become at last an inevitable whole. Holistic, as description as well as name.

I sank into his arms, he into mine. A hole in one.


For further reading, Double Dutch: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/double-dutch.html


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2 responses to “Holland Haven

  1. I note, with some surprise, that I do not use the word ‘holy’ during that exercise in holiness!

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