Low Viz

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Photo by Louis Cahill

Photo by Louis Cahill

A bleak day on the flats.

The air around me is hot, still and thick enough to breathe with a knife and fork. The edges of my hair are damp with sweat. The bow of the boat bobs gently under my feet to the steady “bloop, bloop” of the push pole. All around me the world is a blue-white cyclorama. The sky sopping up the sea without a trace of horizon. Like the view from the center of a light bulb.

I scan the glare for any sign of life. A small window at my feet reveals scurrying crabs and the occasional sponge but as soon as I lift my head I am back in the world of milk. A glare so complete as to turn the world to stone. An impervious shroud covering my eyes, leaving me blind to the ways of the world with no way to distinguish fact from fantasy. Guessing only at what is and what might be.

How many days of my life have I squinted into this abyss? Endless hours with the ferryman at my back, poling me across this void, searching the nothingness with no mooring in sight. How many hours have I stared into this mirror with no one looking back? The coin pinched between my fingers, some ancient fetish, a bit of wing and wire into which, with all of my dreams and aspiration, I have breathed the last of my life. A wish, a prayer, an offering to cast upon the water should some god show himself there.

I think of my father, gone on so many years without me. I feel him there, beyond the curtain, but he will not speak to me. I consider casting blindly into the glow. If I were younger I might. Flail and dance, the line filling the air around me, feverishly seeking to whip some Titan up out of the sea or blow a gale from deep in my lungs that might part the walls of my prison and find the sun. To what end have I spent my life struggling against the tide only to be washed up spent. In the end there is only the mirror.

If I could lift a camera to my eye and fix the image. Blow it up and search it with a loupe. Build a gallery and hang it on the wall. Make of it a door through which others might enter and I might leave. Maybe there in the tiny flakes of silver I would find an answer or at least a clue. A crack through which I might fit my fingers. A place to scratch and dig and maybe let in a bit of air.

I am thinner than the air that surrounds me. Of less substance now. Spread out against the whiteness of the water and sky I feel the air around my bones. The whiteness floods my eyes and fills the darkest corners of my mind. I could float away. I could dissolve like the horizon, go wherever it has fled. My feet could lift off the deck like a feather in the breeze, leaving the ferryman to pole the flats alone. I could fly away if not for the weight of my heart. It pins me to this world like a stone.

A stone and yet some precious thing. Some piece of gold without which I would be only a beggar scratching for a coin to pay my fare. If I have had anything else in this world I have given it all away. I have put it in a bottle and cast it on the tide and it has answered nothing. I have passed through the eye of a needle and carried with me only this one treasure, heavy in my heart.

I have one thing left to do. To search this blue-white void. To see where my guide takes me. To stand, breathless on the bow, and wait for a sign. To live for that moment when my heart will either race or stop. To cast my offering on the water hoping to connect with something larger than myself. I search what is before me, afraid to look behind. Afraid that if I turn the platform will be empty and I will be on the sea alone.

I stare into the mirror and wait for something wonderful to happen.


Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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19 thoughts on “Low Viz

  1. Some very interesting thoughts. It left me pondering the many times that I have felt that way at a time when the bite was slow. You said it so much better that I could. Thanks!

  2. Wow Louis. To me, this is easily one of the best G&G pieces I have read in the 5 months I have followed you two. I read it multiple times very slowly trying to absorb it all. I had to look up what a “loupe” is. These words could set the scene of a film, be part of a great book, or even be used for lyrics. To me, this is the kind of thing that deserves thousands of hits. Thanks, I will be re-reading this one for sure.

  3. There are times on the saltwater flats when the doldrums can set in… usually after hours on the water when you must fight fatigue and boredom hoping for a worthy target to strike up some action. Louis: your imagery is superb. I have been there perhaps in a different location but the very same place. However, unlike mine, your thoughts go to a world where an artist is the guide. Thank you for taking me there.

  4. I want to pull out all my favorite lines, but then I’d just have to copy the whole damn thing. This piece left me me breathless. Brilliant and beautiful. Thanks for sharing it.

  5. Nice observations and presentation of your thoughts, which aptly describe the quiet and peaceful serenity that is so totally opposite the frantic paced world in which most of us live our days. Exactly what attracts people to fishing in general, fly fishing in particular. Bob

  6. Nice piece of writing Louis. I have to agree with everyone else’s general responses. This fancy piece sounded like an excerpt from a novel or something. thanks for giving us a little glimpse of what goes on in the darkest depths of your mind!

  7. Who knew their were fine truffles hiding under Louis’ carefully constructed mushroom-like exterior?
    Bravo on a fine, fine piece of writing. Evocative, profound, thoughtful and spot on in the descriptives.

    Now about sticking your self with fish hooks, on purpose…Wassup wid dat?

      • You know for a bright guy you sure can be thick. Kent was the PERFECT subject to stick hooks in, especially if you’d run the old “Tom Sawyer painting a fence gambit” on him…Served up right, he’d have been proud of his new fly fishing piercings!

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