Fisherman - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
The fisherman leans against the sea wall with his pipe, smoke curling into the salty breeze. He lacks the extra chins and the beer bellies of other men his age, every part of him lean muscle and leathery skin. As he watches the street his eyes are as choppy as the ocean behind him, the sea choosing to send him home rather than grant the haul he was hoping for. The fish live another day and a long day of mending nets stretches ahead.
By mid-morning the fishermen are on the beach to sell their catch to the housewives and restauranteurs. The beach smells of fish guts festering in the sun and the gulls cry overhead, coming for whatever they can get. If it wouldn't make me speak like a duck I'd peg my nose, but at least the breeze takes the worst of it away. The fishermen are fathers and sons, once in a while a daughter, and though the day is early for the customers it is late for them. They joke and smile, yet behind it all is a hint of fatigue, a need to get on with clean up before they can take a much needed siesta.
The fisherman makes his way down the wharf, his clothing lighter and thinner than anyone else out so early. His head is upward as he ponders the weather, so different to the commuters with their downcast eyes. His stride is confident, unrestricted and every footfall solid as it reconnects with the sidewalk. I can't help but feel his aura as he walks, one of a man solid to the core, trustworthy and kind. It is as if he has remained part of nature whereas the rest of us have retreated to an artificial life. I call out to him, "Hey Saul!" and he turns to tip his head my way, a salty smile and a gently raised hand. Then he's gone, away to the vessel he loves so dearly.
The fisherman rubbed at his back. So long bending to sort the fish always did this. By the time he was home he was fit for nothing more than an armchair, a dinner and bed. Gone before the children awoke and in bed before they were done with homework. He was a ghost in his own home. His wife had once decided to rise with him and they went hand in hand to the pebbled shore. She had prepared nets and cleaned things that really didn't need it, but the gesture was the sweetest thing since she had agreed to be his bride. There was a girlish way about her that just didn't exist between piles of laundry and dishes. But that night she of course had to stay up until the last child was ready to sleep. That was the end of that. Early nights were only an option for him. So he carried on, rising before dawn and sleeping right after the dinner - only ever home when a storm broke. But those rain-lashed days were as good as vacations, cosy at home, all thoughts of chores quite forgotten.
On the first bright day of summer the fisherman stood on the deck of his boat, wrinkled beyond his years and with a posture that sagged. He had twenty years of fishing ahead of him and his old tub had sailed her last voyage. His grandfather had told him to always put pennies by for this day, but God had blessed him with a fine family and with his precious babies came expenses, too many of them to spare some money for a savings account. Behind his scraggy beard his mouth had fallen to an almost scowl and his eyes that bore the same hue as the ocean conveyed none of it's warmth or sparkle. He patted the pockets of his jeans and then his shirt. On discovering his tobacco tin he retrieved it and rolled a cigarette between fingers made rough by pulling in nets. Only yesterday the ocean had been his sanctuary, now it was as remote as a far off land. The cry of the gulls cut at him, layering invisible wounds over his skin, and soon his briny tears welled in the cracks of his lips.
Calloused hands like spades outstretched to greet the daughter no higher than the labrador that overtook her on his way to get a fish. She buries her face in his thick auburn beard tingled with grey. She runs her baby-soft fingers over his rough weathered face. She laughs as he sweeps her high onto his broad shoulders and bears her aloft up the shingled beach to Mama. As the wind whips her hair into a frenzied mess all that can be seen of her pixie features is split-face grin.
I have been a fisherman for all my adult years, since boyhood I guess. I know what my father taught me and his before him. Our knowledge stretches forwards like DNA, informing us to who we are. Our craft is more than a way to make money; we have a deep love affair with the ocean and all her creatures. For what she gives we offer thanks; when she rages we show deference. It is not primitive to be spiritual as we are, it is to use a sense that has fallen out of fashion, one we would never choose to be without.
The fisherman leaps to the deck in a modern tracksuit, nothing like the men who mastered these boats in the old days. On his feet are modern runners with anti-slip gripping and on his hands are specialized gloves to protect him from the ropes. He wouldn't look out of place in a gym downtown until he pulls a woollen toque over his short brown hair. He unwinds the mooring rope from the peg, coiling it upon the deck; then with a roar of engines the boat pulls out into the harbour.
Kerat was the model that the mere novices strived to rival. His haul could feed the cities for weeks on end. Wives would spit haughty words on their husbands, aching for a man with Kerat's skill, dexterity and wealth. They would praise his weaving for nets and hunger for his heavy but refined features. The faraway fisherman never married though, and trudged his way through war and back, through illness and back. Nothing could break him, not even the sun. The brash brown his skin mirrored was his souvenir from it. "Anakku Kerat" his mother once said, "The girls I meet adore you, anak, kenapa kau tak mahu kahwin! Why won't you marry?" she scolded.
"I can never love anyone as much as I love her," he simply stated.
"Who?" his mother pressed on.
"The one who gives me life," he said, as he looked upon his mistress, the wide and unforgiving sea.