FIshing for Something

TypicalLunchThe colors of cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, radishes, and kipper snacks—bathed in piquante green and red sauces—blend in a way that soothes my mind. Though most of the colors are not in the least muted, they join together in a pacific lyrical harmony that, here, dances with light steps against the cobalt blue plate on which they rest.

I’ve taken to “designing” my lunches of late, with the objective of calming the rough seas that churn inside my head. That’s an odd endeavor, I realize, but orchestrating the look and feel of an otherwise ordinary lunch plate really does mollify the sharp, brittle edges of my psyche. And my lunch, this one here, is most assuredly ordinary. I’ve written before of my passion for lunches consisting of foods that suggest a past life as a Norwegian fisherman by the name of Kolbjørn Landvik. Kolbjørn Landvik is a character who resides in my head but has not, as of yet, emerged from the fog of my imagination to burst forth onto the pages of a book, or even a short story. But I’ve written of him here, on this blog, and I’ve shared some of the things he ate, foods about which he and I share a passion. Kolbjørn died at sea; I think that’s where he and I differ sharply, though one might argue we differ in more fundamental ways, such as our nationalities, the eras in which we live/lived, and the languages we speak, not to mention our wildly divergent occupations and demeanors.

Speaking of Norway, during a visit with a friend a few days ago she mentioned spending time in Norway and how the beauty of the country captivated her. I’ve never been there, except in my imagination, but I think I must go. I must go see a country whose old fishermen share my love for smoked herring and pickles, whose coastal residents feel an abiding, yet unsentimental, love for the ocean and the coast and the land that owes its bounty to the water.

Shortly, I’ll leave for a workshop on poetry. Just the other day I wrote, “A poem seizes and preserves an emotion, a state-of-mind, that might otherwise dissolve into the mist of experience, available only through the fog of memory.” I believe that. And the visions of Norway and Kolbjørn and the coast and the fjords are poetry as yet unleashed. Writing is the most emotional experience I have ever known. Some might say it’s sad that I’ve not had more emotional experiences than writing. I would respond that I am sorry others have not plumbed the depths of emotions that writing reveals.

I’ve had my herring. Now, I’ll have my poetry.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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