excerpt: Wayne Macauley, Blueprints for a Barbed-Wire Canoe (Black Pepper Publishing: 2004)
Be sure you’re sick of life, say to yourself: I’ve had enough.
Take a roll of rusted barbed-wire and some pieces of nail-infested wood and shape it into a canoe. Choose a moonless night, a night with no moon, the darkest night; you are the only witness, the only one who should see.
Take your canoe down to the filthy creek when the stench is at its worst, tighten the chin strap of your hat and button your jacket up hard—the journey will be long and fraught with danger.
You will use no paddle, you will need no paddle, but will carry a big jar of salt with you and throw handfuls from the stern. This will propel the canoe away from the dark unfathomable ocean, of which the salt is a cruel reminder, upstream towards the pure crystal waters at the source.
Recite the prayer: Nothing Matters, I Don’t Care—three times every hour: this will give you strength. Hold your head up high. Never doub tthe wisdom of your journey, do not ask Where or Why; the canoe is a sensitive one, it may turn on a pinhead and rush you back to the ocean or drop like a stone beneath you. All night you will travel and well into the following day.
When the salt runs out do not despair, the waters will be clearing now and the canoe will know it has safely left the muck behind. Dip the empty jar over the side and hold the contents up to the light; you are looking for water so clear that it seems not to be there, that the jar itself appears to dissolve in your hand. If you do not find it onthe second day, do not despair, go on, if you do not find it on the third, repeat the prayer more often and hold your head a little higher. If you do not find it on the fourth or fifth, don’t worry, go on. If after a week the jar does not dissolve and the water in it is still putrid and thick, take heart, go on, the second week may yet see you safely to your journey’s end.
When in the third week the canoe starts leaking, bail it out, be brave, go on, and when in the fourth week you find yourself becalmed and feel it slowly sinking beneath you, bail harder, keep faith, don’t worry, go on. It is then, and only then, as your carefully thought out and well-constructed vessel sinks slowly towards the muddy bottom that you may allow yourself to cry out: Help! But do it softly, don’t make a big show of it, you are the only witness, the night is moonless again and you are miles away from home; do it softly, sweetly, and as the waters engulf you don’t whatever you do forget to keep your head held high.