They gather slouched as herons by the big seine drum to recount a salty death. A brother in plaid and 80's hair slipped into the black abyss. They remember the whites of his eyes looking up as he tore at his oilskins that sank him quick.
Someone says the cold killed him before his breath gave out. Others wonder if they will fish again.
An old man they all know trudges down among the boats to greet their sadness with the lore of durable men who knew their place in the world, men ordained to live by river and sea.
He says, to fully live, boys, is to know that birth is a covenant between God and our souls. We do not know the terms of the agreement, but what we do know, is that from that day on our flesh and bones are going home. Silver fish run free and crimson to their deaths.
A spare smile and he turns away as he remembers that same talk from the old-timers when a March gale snatched his father from his life. Just a boy who stood in awe of the beauty in his lilt and swagger. His mother wailed and ripples danced in the harbour and gulls cried hurry, hurry.