The Great Wave and Katsushika
The fishermen bowed their heads waiting for the blow. They had known the wave was out there, circling the seas in a never-ending rush of rage, fury and power. Tales had been told by those who had seen others crushed beneath the rampaging wall of foaming water, but never by any who had actually been consumed by the curving carving crescent of seething white and blistering blue, for none had survived a face-to-face encounter.
But the fisherman had taken the risk, for rough seas throw up the fish, bringing the large lurking treasures from the sea floor up to the surface.
And none of them had ever actually seen the Great Wave and knew better than to fully fear a myth.
But now they could see it, and it was greater than they could ever have imagined.
Even Fuji, the mighty mountain, the untameable tower, cowered at the sight of the on-rushing Great Wave.
The fishermen bowed their heads waiting for the blow, for it was too late now to attempt to flee. They were waiting for the smash that would shatter down on them from on high, their bamboo boats which had seemed sturdy on the shore to be splintered into kindling by the ferocity of the Great Wave.
They had been in choppy waters before, laughed as the wind whipped the waves into a frenzy, sending showers of salty brine over their weather-beaten faces.
They had won those battles, but this wall of water was the full war bearing down on them now.
Only Katsushika raised his head as the Great Wave roared its approach.
No, he cried in his mind, I will not bow out like this. He gritted his teeth against the whirling blizzards sweeping and sucked by the Great Wave.
He heaved on the tiller and turned his boat so he faced the wave head on.
And he felt the Great Wave see him and he felt the Great Wave laugh.
Finally, someone was posing a challenge.
The Great Wave rushed towards Katsushika, and Katsushika was pulled towards the Great Wave by the water being sucked up to fuel its mighty face.
He gripped the tiller, holding it firm, strong and straight, his eyes narrowed against the spray spattering his face, and the boat started to rise, soaring vertically up the sheer front of the Great Wave.
Be strong, his mind screamed, keep true, and with every grain of strength and courage he kept his boat straight as it rose higher and higher towards the over-bearing peak.
And just as he felt his craft starting to be pushed upside down by the Great Wave, he felt the water give, and he burst through the crest and sailed down its back.
He had looked The Great Wave in the face and he had won.
And behind the wave was calm, and a large squid sprawled dazed on the surface ready to be finished off and fished out by Katsushika's harpoon.
Duncan Leatherdale is an award-winning journalist and author based in the UK.
The Ekphrastic Review
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