The Sea is a Beautiful Place by Gen Del Raye

Milo McDowell

What could be more beautiful than the shafts of light that reach into the water at certain times when the sea is clear and the sun is high, lined up in all directions like a hall of golden columns seen from far above, winking in and out of sight?

What could be more beautiful than the rolling Pacific swell on a stormy day with the rain pounding down, the water boiling like liquid silver, like a sheet of iron blue that pops and fizzles like a witches brew in the grey twilight?

What could be more beautiful than the sky the way it is when a stiff breeze has chased all the clouds away, and the moon and the stars burn onto the deck just like the blazing of the lighted creatures of the sea passing under the bow and you can taste the freshness of the night air cutting against your teeth?

What could be more beautiful than watching a set come up and smelling the diesel in the air from the overheated winch and the fish oil drifting off the strands of the line coiling on the deck and you look up with your sore eyes, your aching neck, your smarting hands and arms and see the blush of the dawn both above and below you, like floating in the middle of the sky and suddenly the hurt and the labor of the past week melts away?

That was what my father used to say when I woke up in time to watch him leave and I asked him why he went out to sea so early before the dawn and until so late at night, and why my grandfather and my uncles went as well even though so many of them are dead now, and my father would kneel down and say these things that he knew I could not answer.

What could be more beautiful, I would say to my own children, and they too would not know until one morning in January when the ground shook before the dawn and the city collapsed around us and, watching the sun rise up through the twisted girders and reflect against the ocean of corrugated roofing fallen one on top of the other like frozen waves, I finally understood the beauty of the sea and the fact that fear can sometimes be the most beautiful of all.


Gen Del Raye grew up in Kyoto, Japan and lived there until he was eighteen. Currently he is studying marine biology in Honolulu, Hawai’i. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Monarch Review, Kentucky Review, Pithead Chapel, and others.