The Fisherman In The Night


The fisherman in the night

ugly in his loneliness

sees each step he took on the land

as words he should never have spoken

waits for the wind in his sails

waits for the fish in his sleepy net

waits for the next

beat of his heart and the

occult ocean to ask him a question

for which his boat is the answer.


In the night the fisherman

soothed by the sistine swells

(his fish happy in their death

lying like coins in the hold of his boat)

prays to the whales sounding through

submarine horror

prays to the aspic blue

prays to the seagull salt

to keep him safe from storms.


The fisherman, sailing through the night

forgives all those on the land

that have failed to adjust to his madness

wonders if earth ever wants to be sea

do trees float across fields in the rain?

can hills sway in the currents of earth?

do worms and moles, foxes and beetles

swim through the soil as do fish?

do grasses beat on the oxcart like waves

cresting in flower foam?

do the dunes of the desert

rise and fall with the call of the moon?


The night sings and the fisherman

can’t sleep til the ocean rings with the dawn

to announce his mother’s dolphin hunger

his father’s canonical anger

can’t remember the name

that followed him on land

like the taste of dust in his mouth

but calls his boat El Dorado

while the waves that beat on the shore

remember his boat on their back

but fail to bring him to land.


All through the night the fisherman

senses stirring beneath the surface

more than is dreamt of on land

while his boat and the waves talk in voices of

slap and cuff, chatter and gurgle

while the moon turns to gyre and drift

while the waters shift to flood and flux

while the stars arc in flotsam and jetsam

and all who swim surrender

to the current wheel.


The fisherman in the night

suspended by the grace of a

thin meniscus spell

his vessels wooden shell

sees all the nights that have sunk in the waves

names the wind in his face his drink

the creak of his boat his food

the rock of the waves his pillow

the smell of the salt his blanket

the darkness around him his story

the ocean beneath him his anchor.