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the first

The yarmarka (farmer's market) is about to close. Some of the people are already packing up, offering their last bruised tomatoes at half-price to anyone walking past them.  I am wandering, staring at bunches of herbs, at the same old options - cabbage, pepper, potato, garlic, apple, cucumber. But then I see a pile of peas. The season must have come early this year. I buy a kilo, and some mint. I know what is for dinner. We have not had it in eleven months.

At home, I rip the bag open, showing them to V. She stands by the kitchen table, eyes wide. I crack one open, showing her the little rounds inside. She plucks one out, her pinky pointing to the ceiling.
"Try it." I tell her.
She does, but she does not like it.

I pull out a bowl for them. She jumps up and down a few times. V always wants to help in the kitchen. I pull her to my lap, and we begin pulling them out from the shells. She learns quickly, tossing them with a flourish into the bowl, a few cascading to the flo…

I am a fisherman


He has pale blue eyes. Our feet are almost touching on the wet floor of the little bus that lurches alongside the river. I sit facing him, looking out the back window so crusted with mud you cannot see through it. He tilts his head back, slugs from the tall can, and lets is dangle form his hands. It is dead cold out. I can smell the cheap beer on him, or maybe it is from other cans rolling around empty below the seats. He stares hard, at nothing.

The Leica is tucked inside my jacket. I don't see a way to take a picture. I am too close, the ride is too long. His face is such a perfect map of exhaustion and frustration, the beer somehow bottomless as he slurps from it. No, this is not a picture to take. It is one to let pass by. 

My father is a fisherman, as his father was. He can spend a day in a tiny boat with nothing but the wind and water around him. He catches plenty, but coming back empty-handed is nothing to be sad about. It is the process that matters, the getting ready, the going, the being there, the eventual return. It is a neat circle, perfect actually. I tried to fish with him as a boy, bored and complaining an hour into any session. Cold, hot, needing to pee, hungry, I made him nuts. I accepted the fact that I was not a fisherman, that baiting a hook showed no glory for me. 

Now, I think of that young man as one I threw back into the water. It was not a lost shot, but one I traded for a better one. 




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