Cormorants gather on a mudstone spire, and a blade of kelp, backlit by afternoon light, curls and twists in a glassy wave. Field hands silhouetted against the sea ride their mud-caked bikes from row-to-row laying pipe, while in the distance, cattle graze on the rocky bluffs.
Venus appears above a thumbnail moon. The stars, not yet visible, burn in space. A pink cloud rests on the horizon, lit by the sun that has dropped below the skyline. A heavy mist dulls the moon as a fogbank nestles gray on gray.
The Santa Lucias seem to float on the cold current welling up from the canyon beneath the bay, while clouds at dusk turn the water into a syrup of lavender and plum, the light captured by the swells as backwash swallows each incoming wave.
Gene said, it’s impossible to be honest with yourself; it isn’t achievable for anyone. Our defenses defeat us. The world is incomprehensible. I asked him, is there anything we can believe in? Of course, he said, but it should be something arbitrary. He gazed out the window—ah, clouds.
Stanley Fullerton was an artist and a fisherman. I loved his self-portraits—always in a slouch hat, a pipe in his mouth, and a fish under his arm. Stan collaged nautical creatures out of scraps, and made etching plates from torn bits of netting and tattered rope. When he was a soldier in Korea, he stepped on a land mine and was blown apart. It took two years in a hospital to piece him back together. Stan’s figures were always a little clumsy, and looked bemused, as if they could hardly imagine their good fortune to be rendered whole. Gene admired him.