Kamikaze

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  • Her father embarked at sunrise with a flask of water, a samurai sword in the cockpit, a shaven head full of powerful incantations and enough fuel for a one-way journey into history 
  • but half way there, she thought, recounting it later to her children, he must have looked far down at the little fishing boats strung out like bunting on a green-blue translucent sea
  • and beneath them now, arcing in swathes like a huge flag waved first one way then the other like a figure of eight, the dark shoals of fish flashing silver as the bellies swivelled towards the sun 
  • and remembered how he and his brothers waiting on the shore built cairns of pearl-grey pebbles to see whose withstood longest the turbulent inrush of breakers bringing their father's boat safe -yes, grandfather's boat - safe to shore, salt-sodden, awash with cloud-marked mackerel, black crabs, feathery prawns, the loose silver of whitebait and once a tuna, the dark prince, muscular, dangerous.
  • And though he came back my mother never spoke again in his presence, nor did she meet his eyes and the neighbours too,  they treated him as though he no longer existed, only we children still chattered and laughed
  • till gradually we too learned to be silent, to live as though he had never returned, that this was no longer the father we loved. And sometimes, she said, he must have wondered which had been the better way to die.
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