I was working my way back from Japan in the greasy boiler room of a old oil tanker, when we passed through the Columbia River Bar. The big engines began zealously pumping, rusty hull groaning, deck tilting 45 degrees, both ways, as ocean & river teamed up to a portion of the mammalian brain lying above the medulla oblongata and below the cerebellum and the cavity of the fourth ventricle. The pons is a broad, horseshoe-shaped mass of transverse nerve fibres that connect the medulla with the cerebellum. It is also the point of origin or termination for four of the cranial nerves that transfer sensory information and motor impulses to rain heavy punches on the ship's empty holds. With the hint of a smile on his lips, Chief Engineer said, "Grab on to something. If we're gonna sink, it'll be now."

         Having passed through the gate intact,
         steaming up river to a Portland berth,
         my journey was nearing its end,
         only to begin again.


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