California’s, yes, white-washed, yes, white-crested, yes, white-capped, yes, foam-flecked speak to gentle, warm lapis lazuli blue wealth dreams of the quest, the long buried life long quest for the great blue-pink great American West night, blue-pinked skies of course. Yes maybe it was just that sheer hard fact, hard to get around still, that pushed him, old man of the sea him, out of Eastern white, white to hate the sight of white, snowed-indoors, Eastern gale winds blowing a man against the sand-pebbled seas, and into the endless starless, better, sunless night. Yes, maybe just a change of color, or to color, from the white white whiteness of the sea stretched ,white-etched night. Right down to the shoreline white where the waves devoured night and left their mark, their graffiti mark.
Maybe too it was the sheer, hard fact, he would no longer speak of hard to get facts around since that was enameled into his psyche now, of preparing, against the timetable of that Eastern white night, timetable set and etched by that shoreline outline and that fugitive lover who ravished her shoreline sands and then fled, this and that for the winter California day, and night, the ocean California that set the thoughts of the be-bop night (hell, more than be-bop, be-bop to the nth power suddenly came brain-storming in waves like that turbulent sea over him not seen or heard from since those first summer of love days), and the quest for the blue-pink skies humming once again in the, admittedly, older-boned voyager, voyeur (some snicker dirty old man and save such words as voyeur for the professionals) of dreamed once sultry, steamy nights.
And vivid memories of golden Butterfly Swirl and her sex, her seventeen different little tricks, learned, learned from who knows where, maybe mother ocean but certainly not her former seeking the perfect wave boyfriend- where would that fit into his timetable? Such thoughts, such return thoughts a different proposition, a different proposition altogether, on most days, from preparing to face fierce Maine winter mornings, unaided by the graces, speak freely of the graces please, and forms nature provides its hardier creations. No thoughts today of heavy woolen coats, double-stitched, double-plied, doubled-vested, old nor’ easter worthy, or heavy woolen pants, same chino pants of youth, same black chino pants, no cuffs, except winter weight, not the always summer weight of no knowledge youth (inside sad joke), or heavy boots, heavy clunky rubbery boots mocking against the snow-felt, ocean-edged soft sand streets, or maybe, more in tune with aged-bone recipes heavy-soled, heavy-rubber soled (or was it rubber souled?) running shoes (also known in the wide world of youth as sneakers, better Chuck’s). Of scarves, and caps, full-bodied caps, better seaman’s caps, heavy, wool, dark blue, built to stand against the ocean-stormed waves crashing and thrashing against ships hulls, and gloves, gloves to keep your hands from frosty immobility I need not speak. Or will not speak. Of this I will speak…
A picture of Jimmy Leclerc, remember that name like you remember the seas, like you remember certain tales, like you remember, well, like you remember as best you can , that which somebody told you about but which you did not experience (although Jimmy experiences fill my soul, fill my sea-watching soul even today). Blessed, sainted, sanctified, cradled, born under a certain star, lucky maybe if you believe in making your own luck or having it thrust upon you ,Jimmy, young, maybe four or five, no, five, definitely five, school ready, school ready come fall, mucking around the summertime shoreline mucks, low tide, shoreline white- etched ravishes well up the beach, fetid smells from seven kinds of tanker-passing oil slicks, rancid chemicals from the cross-bay industrial plant, human mucks mixed in from ten thousand , ten thousand (thanks, Sam Coleridge) sources seeping back to shore and mephitic (thanks, Norman Mailer) seeps as well from the close by marshes that guard the approached to the sea. Jimmy, a tow-headed, tow-headed kid, five, portending Adonis and ladies, maybe some Butterfly Swirl and her seventeen little tricks when he gets old enough to know of such tricks, know of teaching such tricks just in case he lands a neophyte, knowing from some savior older brother himself sent to sea at fourteen, or some other worthy sea-mate, that day, that picture day, walking toward the ever-present amateur clam diggers(or maybe professional but it is hard to see how they, or anyone could make a living out of oil slicked, fetid, human mucked clams),high rubber boots, high almost to the crotch (although Jimmy would not have pointed that hard fact out), buckets, small buckets, portending small payloads, sea-rakes, sea-shovels, sea-backs and working against time before the relentless seas come back to cover their own.