Excerpt from Salamar :
The first home I remember is a fishing vessel. My father, in one of his many experiments, purchased a thirty-four foot boat and promptly moved our young family to the chill shores of Alaska. He planned to earn himself a fortune and experience wild adventures such as those he had read in his youth; the Heart of Darkness, by Conrad; Moby Dick, by Melville; The Old Man and the Sea, by Hemingway; The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Coleridge; The Odyssey, by Homer; these and a handful of others I recall my mother reading softly over the gentle roll of the waves and the occasional splash of salmon or barking of seal lions. I remember porpoises in our wake, aside our bow, dancing gleefully, diving, leaping, arising in my dreams quite into the air, cackling, laughing; how I wanted to swim with them, to float as if without weight, free, naked, food ever present and playful friends always near and cheerful. Friends; I yearned for them even then. At two? Yes in some facet I had moved already beyond my parents. I suppose it was my soul already striking out at the course of my life, attempting to warn me that this path was not right.
On this Alaska adventure, my father was accompanied by two sailors. Salamar H. Kingsley and Dave, whose full name I do not recall. Dave was a fiend; a man of simple brain, simple tastes and pessimistic nature. Had my father been capable of more acute first impressions, he would have never hired this wretched individual.
Salamar was a gypsy by descent and drifter by nature. His possessions: three changes of clothes, a backpack, a sleeping bag, a tent, a fiddle and a handful of photographs. He had strayed across even more of the earth than my father, and these pictures depicted him in many of these. I saw him standing at the pyramids of South America and Egypt, at the Coliseum and the Parthenon, Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Mount Fuji, Mount Kilimanjaro. There he was on an elephant, a camel, a llama, swimming with orcas, standing at the north pole, boxing a kangaroo, riding a bull; hundreds of moments in an extraordinary life. I listened to his stories and imagined myself in his place, by his side. I wanted to be like him. I wanted to be him. If I had a friend at that tender age, it was he.
Despite this burgeoning affection for the sporadic life he had lived, I of course, being so young, saw not the intermittent sadness and hunger he had endured to supply himself with freedom. His time aboard our small vessel, ahowever, was to form my nature far more than to instill a desire to travel and experience the wide varieties of life present on this earth.
We had been at sea for four days when the sky grew dark and the wind began to toss the waves into uproar. I remember being thrown from my parents’ bed upon the floor and crying as a clap of thunder sounded overhead. The boat swayed violently, and the net was thrown from the rear deck. I crawled upon the bed and held onto its edge. I looked out the window, and in a flash of lightning, I noticed Salamar edging himself toward the bow. I scrambled onto the steering consol while my father started the engine. Dave, in the lower cabin, turned the hydraulics on, and Salamar began the anchor winch. It had just slid into place when the boat lurched suddenly to the starboard side. I was slammed against the window and then to the floor, while Salamar was washed overboard. The boat, now that it was free, spun aimlessly through the sea and soon was crashed upon the rocks of an unknown shore. We, my family, scrambled into the lower cabin, where we found Dave in the corner screaming, and then off the back deck into our skiff. We unleashed the ropes from the rear of the boat, and my father steered toward the treeline flashing into view with the lightning. Dave curled on the floor and murmured. My mother held me in her arms. How clearly I remember the calm I felt in her arms; the warm feeling of security which filled my soul. I thought not of Salamar, gone, or the peril we were in but rather of the beauty of the storming sky. It was incredible, blacks and blues of every hue, swirling; then the light, the waves, the distant, nearing, drifting, trees. I know not how long we struggled toward that beach, but if my soul were forever locked in the interim, I would not be displeased.