Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Fisherman

A picture. Told as a story...

I first saw him as he was paddling his rickety boat further out into the ocean, seeing him strain with hope for a catch. I knew him vaguely- a farmer from Cork. I asked him why he was so far out alone on the sea, rowing like that, carrying the nets. He replied in tears without words. Very desperate. “Your people are starving?” I asked in the sea spray. “Yes. Failed crops.” I watched him, curious, and so saw his beginning- that he had set off from the docks while other men spit in his direction, “Go on out in that coffin! Suit y’self if ye like drownin’!” The others whispered among themselves deciding it was more entertaining to watch him die than enforce the clan mandates preventing the inlanders from fishing . My sisters and I tend to laugh and forget the horror of being human, but he reminded me. It breaks your heart, as you know. He cried out to me, knowing I was watching. He called what he knew, though he did not know me, “Lord! Sweet Lord!” as he cast out his nets again and again. From dawn till dusk, casting out his nets. Taking pity on him as the stars began to appear, the gentle fish swirled underneath his nets, and gathered themselves to be collected to their death for him. He pulled them in with a red eyed smile and he gave me thanks, weeping still. Though with the fish at his feet, the old wood leaks betrayed his plans. Anyone, though there was no other soul, could see that his boat was not high enough above water now. Waves splashed in at each moment. He saw too, that sinking would occur soon into the infinite depths. This is when you see the curtain torn in two. It’s a time that we look forward to, as much of the cosmos that we see- this is a beautiful time. He threw his head back in agony and abandon- knowing his death to be on either side. If he continues to carry the fish to shore- just enough to feed all those he loves, he will surely sink, losing both fish and his own life. If he returns the fish to the sea, he will arrive empty-handed, only to die a slow hungry death, watching his people starve.

Which ending will occur, you ask?

We don't decide such options.

We live between them.

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