Gone stokers

Their jackets inevitably sag a little. However freshly washed, they usually carry with them an agedness air the profane eye struggles to fathom.

The left pocket sometimes shows a sort of white mark, where the coarse linen bears prints of scuffing; it is a sign that the owner of the jacket is right-handed, for many of them just let their idle hand rest on their side when not in use. Left hands are often idle. Work is long gone; one can always grab a glass with one hand. On a closer look, one can make out four distinct pale blobs: as so many knuckles weighing at the bottom of the pocket, counterweights to a sinking decline.

On both shoulders the marks are alike; one might think they were produced by the habit of carrying heavy loads, the stigmata of a barely ergonomic kitbag lugged around for decades. Ships don’t sail anymore; the only fog horn blowing in the mist is the one of the ferry casting off to Corsica. Longshoremen drive machines, and sailors don’t possess any bag. If the cloth is worn-out on each side of the collar, the rain takes all the blame. The water soaked and took away the color of the jacket; only it never rains in Marseille, and whenever it does, people stay inside, for the rain never lasts. After a life of brief rain showers, the garment and the face of its wearer share a common wanness.