‘The Awakening’ by Daniel Corkery

A man on a fishing boat contemplates the scenery in the context of a recent and indeterminate sexual encounter. The crew are fishing by Fastnet rock. I grew up near the sea in Cork, so its appeal is personal. It is simple: a man becomes captain of a fishing boat, another man retires. What defence can one have in the face of such compelling plainness? There are a number of quasi-accurate responses, but one of those is none.

It was very dark. Everything was huge and shapeless. Anchored as she was, tethered besides, clumsy with the weight of dripping fish-spangled net coming in over the gunwale, the nobby was tossed and slapped about with a violence that surprised him; flakes of wet brightness were being flung everywhere from the one lamp bound firmly to the mast. Yet the night was almost windless, the sea apparently sluggish: there must be, he thought, a stiff swell beneath them.

Collected in Classic Irish Short Stories, ed. Frank O’Connor, Oxford University Press, 1985