The Old Man and the Salt Marsh (or) Oyster Fields Forever

February 18, 2011

At night, the salt and water comes in, the water and salt leave and the oysters stay behind. The salt marsh spreads from the mainland to the adjacent island close to my former home. This is an oyster farmers land.

Mid-day – it’s June – the sun beats down again on an old tired back. Mr. Yang has done this before. Feet sunken hunched low in the quagmire shadowed only by the weavings of his bucket-rimmed hat, his soiled calloused stubs reach under the steeped silted rock upon which he adds one more to a sack full of oysters to later be shucked.


Another Mr. Yang with a very different fate sits in the comfort of a first class jet. Mr. Yang has done this before. Sunken deep into a beige leather seat in the air conditioned cabin. Sipping a fine burgundy colored wine the attendant reminds him to buckle for landing. Adjusting his slippers, he stretches his neck and fingers a bit. Putting his things into his black leather bag he takes another drink and rubs out the sleep that had rested on his freshly shaven face as he takes a passing glance to the landscape below.

As he buckles the silver buckle the plane shadows the oyster farmers tired old back. Sweat and salt drip deep down into his glossed eyes as he lifts his head to the ominous roar of the dragon above.

In an odd and yet understandable way both Mr. Yang’s tighten their grip on their respective possessions.

post-script: Solomon, my former roommate told me something similar to this one day after he went running along the coast by our former house and I just couldn’t forget it . . . thanks.


2 Responses to “The Old Man and the Salt Marsh (or) Oyster Fields Forever”

  1. Stephanie Says:


    I hopped over here from Burnside. So many of your observations and thoughts about China really resonated with me; I lived there a couple of years ago and found it to be a never-ending treasure trove of adventure.

  2. epallen Says:

    Hi Stephanie. thanks for reading and commenting. where in China did you live?

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