In the early Spring of that year we traveled by skiff and looked
across the waves and thunder clouds to the horizon. In the heart of
the storm there were pebbles and loam, wet and white in the rain, and
the water was harsh and rushing and green in our ears. Birds flew
over our heads and down the waves and the arcs they made colored the
clouds of the sky. The ocean too was tired and the tow pushed
honestly that spring and we followed the birds sweeping through the
sky and the arcs forming the waves, moved by the moon, pulling and
the gulls fleeting and afterward the island desolate and white except
for the birds.
"Now, Hem," I said. "I've been wanting to talk to you."
"Funny," he said. "There's nothing to say."
"But I have questions," I protested, "about survival, about memory,
about truth and fiction, about human beings."
"I don't want to talk about it," he said. "What's for lunch?"
"Little fishes and palm hearts and a bottle of Pouilly Fuisé that
just washed up on shore. We're very lucky we found this place."
"We've always been lucky," he said.
"Tell me everything," I said.
"There's nothing to tell," he said. "I've led a very quiet life."
He picked up a conch shell, filled it with wine, sipped slowly.
"I'll tell you about Paris in the early days," he began.
And we were stranded and very happy.