Awaji Island, Japan. Winter 2012
On Awaji Island I watched as a fisherman mended his net. For several minutes I stood there as he worked. Watched silently as his blunt and nimble fingers did their ancient choreography, filling the gap one tiny square at a time where some of his catch had slipped like a shiver of silver to roam another day in the icy Inland Sea. He used his teeth to cinch the frayed ends and he had taken his shoe off and was using his big toe to pull the line taut. After a while he sensed me standing there and looked up. Our eyes met and his shifted a little but like Elizabeth Bishop’s fish it was not to return my stare. He bent back to the task, hunched the way men have hunched for a thousand years. I stood there, admiring his sullen fingers, the crane of his neck, his uncomplicated immersion. And like a tourist from the future, I snapped a picture of him on my smartphone and walked away.