Fisherman

A man was night fishing at surf’s edge in the darkness of a new moon.

He felt a strong tug on his rod and the battle began with what he thought must be a hammerhead shark. But as he began to win the contest and reeled the creature to shore, he saw a tumble of arms and legs. These were so pale that they glowed with their own sort of moonlight. These human limbs were almost phosphorescent.

It was a boy, he figured a corpse, some luckless soul drowned at sea.

As he pulled the body onto dry sand, using his hands now, he heard a sputtering, and fish-like sounds came from the mouth. Though it appeared to be a boy with long jet black hair, webs and fins were all about the body. This “boy” had human legs. It was not a merman. The creature seemed stunned from having been pulled from its element.

“Speak!” the man commanded the creature.

But it could only gurgle in the air. Perhaps, he thought, it could speak only underwater.

So the fisherman took his club and beat it to death.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

When the fisherman served the flesh of the sea creature in a soup to his son, the boy was puzzled by the strange taste.

“What sort of fish is this?” he asked. A clear distaste was evident in his face, the twisting of his handsome features.

“Monkfish,” the father replied, without looking up from his own bowl.

They had only each other as family. The boy’s mother had died in childbirth. He had learned to trust his father. Though the young man did not like the taste of the strange “fish,” in fact despised it, he dutifully finished the meal.

Soon after that night, the fisherman’s son fell sick. He fell into a torpor and then a fever. He raved in his bed as he tossed and turned. He talked constantly of the sea. He told his father he would die if he were not placed in the sea.

A doctor was consulted but could do nothing. The father felt great shame for having fed his son the flesh of the creature. Oddly enough, he himself had not fallen ill, though he had eaten the same meal.

After more than a week of his son’s suffering and worsening of his condition, the father took his son to the sea. The moon was now restored, bright. He carried the boy to the surf’s edge. He laid him in the soothing, wet sand.

As soon as he began splashing some water on his son’s face, the boy seemed to improve a little. He said it helped.

“These clothes,” his son moaned. The father understood and helped him out of his sweat-drenched vestments. He was horrified to see the fins that had sprouted on his son’s arms, on his legs near his ankles, the webbing between his toes and around his neck.

The boy began to crawl towards the sea.

The father saw him struggling and helped him to reach a depth of water where he could float. He could feel his son growing stronger by the minute as they went further into the ocean.

His son smiled. Then he laughed.

“Thank you, father. Thank you thank you thank thank you….” he said as he swam away.

(This is my adaptation of a Japanese folktale of which countless versions exist.)

string eight

“my” stray cat
eating
in the rain

*

the stray cat
eating
in the snow

*

stray cat
hides
when it sleets

*

my neck
hurts with
these thoughts

*

I dust down the stairs
shaming myself  (I think)
but shaming years

*

don’t worry about
the house’s facade.
worry about the roof

Paragraph

Sometimes I forget to exist and am instead  like a nail driven into an expensive but antiquated stereo system by a vengeful, slightly older brother. Nevertheless nevertheless nevertheless. I follow myself home. Some days, I mean, I follow myself home. Everyone in this office feels the need to prove their sanity to everyone else. That’s not a good sign. Have you ever been to a track where the horses run around in an oval: I forget the name of this. Three of the horses win and the rest of the horses evaporate into mist. Fog. Something like that. Their parents buy very expensive, luxury coffee machines that are stainless steel and never mention disappointment again. When someone never mentions their disappointment to you again, you have truly lost.  That means the samurai moment has passed.

Paragraph

Someone had to invent the paragraph. It didn’t naturally exist. I meant to tell you I was watching the cottonwood trees shedding their dream of world domination. They release their DNA on the wind as films by young people do. It was a billion selfies on the wind today. I felt I should carry an umbrella around for the poetry. The stupid poetry of it all! They grow so tall, those trees, that they threaten houses. The catkins’ seeds are airborne and every block looks like a Japanese woodcut of falling snow. It is the Floating World. But it is a new spring. I step off the curb whose shoulder the white fluff is crying on.  I see you in a window, high up. You wave to me with a stapler. It looks like a vaguely homicidal gesture, but I will take it. You are talking to me again.