Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Learning to Swim

The fishing boat rises and falls on the turbulent blue-black sea.
One moment I see it, riding high.
The next it is barely visible. I wait for it to return
It seems as if the man is drowning.
Not screaming, just quietly accepting his fate
Because he didn't learn to swim.
A strange decision for a man in a boat at sea.

He places his success at what he does in the hands of his god.
He learned from his father, as his father did his. That seemed enough.
Up until now, his skills were sufficient. A strike from a stick from his father ensured he listened. 
A soft word from his grandfather reinforced his faith.
Perhaps a caress from rope burned hands and moral support from a broken back.
Up until now, he has been rewarded. A regular catch most days, enough to feed on and sell at the market.

Now he is to blame. The net is empty, his children hungry.
He searches the past for his mistakes, his wrongdoings, his sins from which no redemption came.
He beat his wife once too often and too hard.
He over-priced his catch or sold yesterday’s fish today.
A man must provide. He must be strong. 
Now he feels the weakness of his age.
His god is his only guidance now. Provide or be punished. The law is simple. It is the gospel of the enslaved. 

Now he feels the chill of the sea at his feet. His life is leaking away.
He sits and waits. God will come. God is his only hope.
A wave catches his breath. He chokes, tastes the salt, he feels the sting in his soul.
He hears his wife cry. His son is gone some years, drowned as he would, on a lonely sea. The sea is unforgiving. The waves drown the sounds of sorrow. The sea is its own god, answerable to no one. As deep and cold as any part of nature.
He calls for his son, his father, his god.
There is no answer. He knows there is no answer. 

The last wave comes. 
The fisherman casts his last bait into the Black Sea below.
He feels the tug of the deep and he resists momentarily.
He opens his eyes and sees the end. It is quiet and welcoming for him now.
There is no more anguish, no pain of living, just the joy of having lived, of knowing what life is and does.
He closes his eyes and mind against the currents of thought that brought him here.
He says goodbye to his maker and stops breathing.

The sea continues to move under the lifeless body. Fish gather and feed. Nothing remains now except the memories of others. 
Today he will be the reward for the fisherman of the sea. Him not them; the others, the survivors, the ones that learned to swim.

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