By John P. Lee
I found two sinkers in a valley between some cobble stones. I was swimming back to shore, after spearing some blackfish, around this time last year, maybe a bit later, the water cooling down, the migratory runs already well in swing. Two sinkers—who gives a shit? You can buy them anywhere. Why have these two globs of lead been awarded a spot on the sill above my kitchen sink? For one, they are from a different time, how long, I’m not sure, years, decades, many tides and winters. And two, they were found randomly, as if dropped from the sky. There was no active search, no forethought.
When I’m coming in from deeper water and I’m getting ready to haul out and the water gets shallow, my view of the ocean floor becomes more focused. There is no real space between the surface and the bottom. I pull myself along with my hands and let my fins go limp. It can be a very relaxing part of the dive, the work of spearing is done, and the work of getting out of the water, dragging myself across the rocks and humping my gear to the car is yet to begin. So I slow right down and enjoy the easy glide.
I was looking down and then there they were, two sinkers. I grabbed them and looked at them. The lead had been worn to a smooth polish, like sea glass, like moonstones. The other thing that struck me—two sinkers side-by-side near where the surf line breaks on a cobble beach—no way those sinkers were lost on the same day, in the same spot. They had rolled across the bottom on very different courses, and ended almost touching. That kind of randomness is what I love—more so if it involves a found object tied to the sea. I came home and put them on the sill. I told the story to my wife, my son, and stepson. As I expected: none of them game two shits. A clump of lead. “Keep it away from the kids,” my wife said. Some things in life are never meant to be understood by our own families.
Here we are once again coming into blackfish season. I’ll go back to that spot and make the long swim out to the reef, the good bottom, close to where the blackfish boats anchor and fish. Fish will be killed, sinkers will be lost. And who knows maybe 50 years from now another man or woman will find two sinkers, worn to polish, washed up together in the cobble.
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