Northwords Now Issue 40

The FREE literary magazine of the North

John the fisherman

by Mark Vernon Thomas

John was a fisherman…and now I guess you think you know the way the story goes: how he loved the sea, and a running springtide, how he sailed with storms and seals and gulls, how he lived his life in wild places, amongst the elemental beings of the world. It could be. There may have been icebergs. Could have been typhoons. Or bright city lights, and tropical ports, and wild, wild women; it’s possible. He could have been drowned saving someone he loved. Or saved by no-one he knew. Or perhaps by an enemy who turned out to be his long-lost brother. Maybe he couldn’t swim at all - many fishermen can’t, why delay the inevitable, they say. Maybe he found a golden ring in the belly of a fish, or a magic lamp – but no: that would make him just the moral of a fabulous fisherman’s tale, and not a fisherman at all. And John was a fisherman. That much I know.

Perhaps he liked to drink. Many men do. Perhaps he never married. Many men don’t. Perhaps he had an aversion to dogs, never smoked, broke his leg as a child, kept a canary in a cage (the canary was called Blue.) Perhaps he was fished from the sea himself, learned to ski, had a science degree, perhaps he was afraid of ghosts, loved poetry, never voted... all I know is that John was a fisherman. That’s enough for me. If I said more, then this would be all about me, not John, and I’m not a fisherman. John was the fisherman, not me.