Printed from WriteWords -


by  Pemaquid

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2004
Word Count: 265

-- off a painting by Stephen Busch

My day’s catch slaps about my feet
like chickens flapping speechlessly, wet and messy.
I toss them by name: cod at the bow, halibut in the stern –
haddock center to the keel, sectioned by boards.

A halibut can weigh more than a man. Yanked from the sea,
hauled into the open air, my fish writhes violently
lunging after its breath. The air is gray, moist and wet.
I’m breathing with an open mouth. Heaving a heavy club

I stun the fish and shove my gob stick down its throat –
two prongs around the hook -- and twist.
I sing for home against the slapping
of the water on the dory’s bottom.

My time at sea is numbered
by the fish I catch each day
and how I pray,
my lines, each hook a lure,
for me and my dear Sally
to lie along a summer field,
and kiss behind the prickly rose hips
high above the ocean bay.

My trawl lines float numbered-off barrels bobbing in the sea.
A fog rolls in, rising off the bow. Hand over hand
I work to fill my boat in a sea turned black, draped
in rolls of gray-white tapestry. I’m in a liquid room alone.

Alone, I hum and dream of Sally waving on to me.
Blow, horn, blow; I hear your breath like an image
in a dream, a mate responding to my anxious call.
Off the bow of mother ship there’s me, my horn and home.

George V. Van Deventer
September 2004