A short story from: Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019.

© Lee Heffner, 2019

Bouys, photographic art by Yorozuya Yohaku

Visitors see the above hung from the rope of a dock or the eave of a restaurant as romantic. Emblematic of a life lived on the sea. Perhaps they are aged siblings of the very buoys that identify the traps of the lobsters they from away look forward to eating at their next meal.

Buoys have a long and decaying history. Originally crafted from black cedar, they became too expensive and were replaced by liter soda bottles stoppered with a ten-cent plug to enhance the float. Not individual enough. Not capable of a fisherman’s imprint. The retirees above were spawned by the later marriage of wood and Styrofoam. They come into the world bland and smooth as a newborn. For sale at marine stores up and down the coast they became both chattel and tools.

How is a buoy distinguished? By the ignominy of another’s colors. A fisherman like a plantation owner says, “You will wear my colors. My colors only. You will remain silent and yet blare my ownership.”

After unspecified years of battering, being nicked, dinged, cut from their traps by enemies of the owner, they are retired, often with little or no dignity. Tossed on a heap or carried adrift by a tide, they are scavenged for scene setters, for the cruelest of fates. They are hung as décor on the water’s edge, to see but not inhabit the one home they know, the sea.


Coastal Maine in Words and Art: Gallery Fukurou’s Reflections by Maine Writers, 2019 was published after a contest for writers to create stories to accompany art photography that depicted Rockland and the coast in its myriad situations, moods and emotions. This story was published in the book along with 27 others.

An overwhelming 88 stories were submitted for the contest. In the end seventeen writers were chosen. Their stories are told with depth, insight, candor, irony, wit and humor. Anyone who has every visited Maine’s coast will be able to relate to them. They’ve put humankind’s instinctive emotional connection with the sea into words.

A gallery exhibit/booksigning was held at Gallery Fukurou in September 2019. The contest was held by Polar Bear and Company, of the Solon Center for Research and Publishing.

The Maine Humanities Council provided a grant for our project that enabled the Solon Center to donate books to libraries across Maine. MHC is a statewide non-profit organization that uses the humanities, “as a tool for positive change in Maine communities.”

Please ask your local bookstore to order it in for you or, if need be, purchase it HERE. All photographic art is available through Gallery Fukurou at info(at)soloncenter.org.