Alexios Moore is a creative non-fiction writer whose work utilizes traditional short story styles to convey “real life” narratives. He earned an M.F.A. from The New School where he teaches in the undergraduate program. His work has been published in Pindelyboz and H.O.W. and he received an Edward Albee fellowship in 2007. He is currently working on an ethnographic memoir entitled Field Studies that focuses on the different communities he grew up in from urban Boston and Oakland to Point Barrow, Alaska.
Excerpt from Hunting and Gathering:
I leaned over the side of the boat and hooked my fingers into the net, gently walking the mesh towards me. The form took shape slowly, its glow seemed to blur the outline of its shape like the photograph of a ghost presented as evidence of that other world on some late night television show.
The long August dusk was coming on, and the sun was making its slow fade into the horizon. The light could be funny then. Sometimes it seemed like it was almost easier to see into the water at dusk, as if the bay retained some light for a few hours, or maybe it was the fish that reflected brighter against the backdrop of the shallows. I continued pulling in the net, and the closer the glow became the less it looked like a fish.
“I don’t know Robert… it might be a stingray or something.” I called out. “Well…pull it up! Let’s solve the mystery and go home.” He hitched up his Helly Hansens and spat behind the sleeping motor.
It broke the surface face first, the net was twisted around its snout. I had seen porpoises in the bay in the early hours of the morning chasing schools of salmon, sometimes right into our nets. We considered them allies, maybe because of the old fisherman mythology, or maybe just because they looked the most like us. They always seemed to be playing. But who knows what there lives were actually like? Maybe they fought, and hated and killed. Maybe they were capable of malice. We weren’t scientists. Our understanding of the sea was a collage of inherited ideas and impressions tempered by the reality of this viceral, repetitive labor.
I pulled the porpoise into the boat. It was heavy and cold. It fit perfectly in my arms. It must have been a baby. I waited for Robert’s joke, and when it didn’t come I lay back into a pile of kelp and listened to him rev the engine. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them we were farther out in the bay, out between the Herring Islands where the first generation of homesteaders still lived without electricity.
Robert stayed quiet, and I lifted the porpoise into my arms leaned over the boat so far my face broke the surface. I submerged my arms, and the cold water leaked into my gloves. I held the porpoise underwater for a moment before I released it. It hovered for a moment and then sank away.
“Well… that’s that.” Robert looked away into the island’s crown of pines and repositioned his bum leg. I stayed as I was, hanging over the boat’s bow, dragging my hand through the water as we pulled away. It was getting dark, and my hand traced a trail of glowing phosphorescence on the surface of the bay as millions of micro organisms exploded into clouds of light.