The Old Man At The Dock

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Posted by seahunt on April 12, 2003 at 14:44:22:

The Old Man At The Dock

Every time I go to the boats, I see the old man at the docks.
Sometimes he's talking to his few cronies that he has not outlived.
Sometimes he's telling me that I gotta park way back over there.
Sometimes he's just standing there doing nothing and feeling the sea breeze.
It's not that his clothes are baggy, it's that the sea years have made him baggy.
He doesn't know me, but I recognize him.
I ask "have you killed any fish lately"?
He responds "not today".
He has outlived his time, but he has seen what you and I never will.
He has grown up at the docks, likely before this one was ever here.
He grew up on boats that no longer exist.
He has been a deckhand and a skipper on commercial and charter boats,
but usually, his name was just crew.
He has seen fisheries rise and then reach their sunset.
Like the tide, he has seen fishers young and old, clever and clueless, come, then go again.
He has seen fishers that were his friends, but most are gone or have passed away during endless coming and going of the boats.
Sometimes he wonders why he is still there. He has seen storm and calm and the stars. His life is full.
Now he just does jobs around the dock, because he has always been there.
He has seen so much and he will tell you, if you want to feel the sea.
Does he love the sea and the docks? I don't know. They are and have been his life, not his love, but will he move on? He will die before he leaves. Where would he go? His life is at the docks.
When I leave the boat I show him my bag and ask him what he thinks.
He still doesn't recognize me. I am a small thing in his span of years and many passing fishers.
He laughs "it ain't nothing, cuz it ain't mine". Then he mumbles "ya shoulda seen...".
I look at him and wonder if it were me.

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