Long Boats In Timebyjthserra©
Mioko always knew the day would come when Matsuo, her little one, rode the boat onto the water with his father. The dreams of her son following a different path were only dreams. In the province, you either were a fisherman, a fisherman's wife, or you left. Her son stayed, so he would become a fisherman.
Hanami, knowing his wife's concern, stayed in the salt marshes the first few days, until Matsuo got more accustom to the boat. As they cast off that first day, he noticed the distant mountains looked like cobalt giants casting their shadows over the water. The faint light painted lavender halos around the giants. The boat knifed through the grasses as they headed toward the deeper waters in the marsh. As the boat traveled, Hanami showed Matsuo how to cast a net and how to handle the fishing lines.
long boat parts marshes
two lines glimmer white sunrise
father teaches son
After the first few weeks, Mioko was proud of herself. She would see them off each morning without a tear and spend her day busy with the household chores. There were moments when she would pause, wish she could have more children, and dream of another little one. Sadly, not all things are known in life, and happy with her family she would snap out of her dream and get back to her chores. She looked forward to the end of each day when Matsuo would describe the day's events. The first few weeks he talked, on and on, of the fish he caught, describing in detail the different sizes and colors. He would explain all the different sights he saw. As he got older, his stories got shorter.
For Hanami the days had been uneventful. Matsuo was eager to learn, and took great pride in each fish he caught. He was a hard worker, but there were moments he would drift, staring at a sunrise, a different cloud formation or even a strange colored fish. That is one reason Hanami enjoyed his life as a fisherman. While it was hard work, you could enjoy the outdoors, and you could dream. At times, he would gaze back at the land as the boat moved into the bay. The mist hovered over the salt marshes as the sun rose giving the landscape a heavenly appearance. Since Hanami often thought of heaven as fishing boats on a marsh, the misty scene on the horizon seemed to call to him. Faint shadows of his ancestors appeared to wave from boats in the mist. They would then disappear into time.
shadows in the mist
ancient hands cast out the nets
in time the fish come
The strange clouds on the horizon worried Mioko as she watched Matsuo and Hanami head their boats out into the waves. As a fisherman's wife, she knew weather was part of the life. She knew Hanami respected the sea and was always cautious, so Mioko never worried too much. But she also knows friends whose fathers or husbands did not return and with Matsuo controlling his own boat now, she did worry now. The boats were dots on the horizon when she noticed Noriko, Matsuo's "friend," watching his boat from the beach. Mioko waved to her, but then wandered back to her house. She knew Matsuo would marry Noriko before the end of the summer and look for a house of his own. He grew up much too fast.
The waves were a bit taller than normal, Hanami thought, as he waved to Matsuo. His son had become a fine fisherman, often bringing home more fish than Hanami. Each day Hanami had to work very hard just to keep up. Matsuo had a fine boat that seemed to sparkle in the waves. Often when the father and son raced home after a day's work Hanami would admire the fine silhouette of Matsuo on his boat traveling into the sunset. It was worth the joking that he took for losing, to watch his son stand tall against the sun. As he looked at Matsuo now, he saw him pointing towards the clouds. The storm was approaching quickly. Both fishermen quickly headed toward land, but they couldn't out run the storm. The waves crashed around them as they fought furiously to get to shore. Hanami saw Matsuo's boat safely crest a wave just before the water came down upon him. As he felt the water swallow him, Hanami prayed his son would make it home safely.
waves surge storm's fury
empty boat tossed helplessly
son joins his father
Mioko knew to expect the worst when the boats did not make it back before the storm hit. The other fishermen were busily tying down the boats and returning to their houses as Mioko gazed out into the storm, searching for a sign of the boats. She stood in the wind and rain hoping and praying their boats would appear. She saw nothing, except a singular figure standing at the beach staring outward. Leaning into the wind Mioko walked down to the beach towards Noriko.
Hanami awoke on the beach still clutching the wood plank he grabbed as his boat broke up in the waves. As his eyes began to focus he looked across the marsh. In the mist he saw the shadows of the ancient, long boats as they sailed into time. His ancestors were waving. Among the ancient boats, was a new boat: Matsuo's boat. Hanami saw a youthful figure waving as it disappeared into the mist.
Fuji's gray sadness
as rains cover the valley
mountain without son