6.30.2013 Journal Prompt

"Norse Fisherman" by Martha Weintraub
“Norse Fisherman” by Martha Weintraub

June 30, 2013: His father was a fisherman.

5 thoughts on “6.30.2013 Journal Prompt

  1. hartigap

    IN VENICE !!! On Jun 30, 2013 11:46 AM, “Patricia Ann McNair” wrote:

    > ** > Patricia Ann McNair posted: ” June 30, 2013: His father was a > fisherman.”

  2. Lindsay

    His father was a fisherman. He told the boy stories that were as big as the one that got away and, when he was young, the boy swallowed those stories hook, line and sinker. Stories of mermaids with hair the colour of spun gold or like sunlight laid on the surface of the water, and silver kicking fishtails, and the father dropped sea-smelling sixpences into the boy’s hand as proof of what he said and he said those sixpences were the scales of that mermaid that was caught one day in the nets and then let go.

    The boy, fish-eyed in wonder, drank in every whispered word. And when the father described the singing of that half-fish and half-woman, the boy thought he could hear the siren sound and it was something like Cathy singing in the church choir and some of the older boys with their hands on their cocks under their surplices whenever Cathy sang.

    And his father told stories of treasure dragged up from the bottom of the sea-bed, small bits of gold coin and rings with red stones in them and candlesticks that he said were brass. Ships were down there, he told the boy, and on a clear day and a still day if you looked over the side of the boat you could see dead sailors waving and the sails of those ships like clouds beneath the water and billowing as though in a firm wind.

    And if you sailed far enough out, so far that behind you was just a smudge of blue where the land that was home should be, and further out than that still, then you would come to the very edge of the world and all the stars were near enough you could touch them and they were cold as ice. And the father brought one home to the boy, the broken bit of one, only the sun being up it had melted in his hand so that all he had for the boy was a wetness held in the palm and it tasted of salt, tasted of tears.

    But the boy is older now and his father is not a fisherman anymore and the stories the father tells are all salt-curses now and found at the bottom of dry empty glasses. And the boy carries the father home some nights, when he gets the call from the landlord at ‘The Ship’, and the father’s voice then is as loud as foghorn and his spit-spindrift stories are all about a woman who lives up Barrow Street, which is on a hill that looks out over the sea; and he says how he laid all he had at her feet, all his money and an offer of marriage and a candle to put in her window when he was out on the water, a candle to bring him home again; and he says how he’d have sailed to the end of the world for her and pulled stars out of the sky for her. She is old now, this woman, but the father still talks of her as though she is young and yellow-haired and singing.

    The boy carries the father back home, back to an empty room save for a bed and some old black and white pictures pinned to the wall, pictures of a boy hauling lobster creels and smiling at the world. And he knows the boy in the pictures is his father, but he does not recognize him in what he sees.

    1. Lindsay: The fourth paragraph: beautifully written and a real turning point in the story. It also unites the ‘pulling in’ images, and the stars that reappear in the next-to-last paragraph. Nicely done!

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