Monday, August 23, 2010

considering the fold

the moment i pulled the knife from its sheath
i understood something.
i looked down and saw the electrical tape
with the black end neatly folded back for use the next time;
i understood my father's knife hadn't been out in the open for twenty years.
without a thought i took it from its shell to see the blade.
i looked at the tape. 
i saw his hand on it after one job making it easier for the next one.

looking back at the knife it was somehow altered even after i placed it back in its cradle. too late, i considered the last time it was used. how did he fillet the unknown fish and where?  in the boat, or did he give it to my mother to dress at the kitchen counter, for i remember her saying, "I will clean and cook a fish but I will not eat one. '' 

too late because that precious moment before i changed something
i didn't consider the past or its origin.
we live like this,
the next time,
the next time,
and when we die and have left a button open on a shirt pocket,
the shirt neatly piled with others to be taken to the Salvation Army box near the grocery store.
will the next one push through the task at hand,
or consider what might have been in the pocket?

Sunday, August 22, 2010



Bottled rabbit and sweet tea

The weather this morning reminds me of a morning waking up on deck. I used to long-line fish. We would set out at five in the afternoon, steam for three hours and start dropping in line. Eight tubs of line held one thousand, two hundred and fifty hooks.  These lines were baited on the wharf earlier that morning and put aboard, covered up so the gulls wouldn't get to them. It took a couple of hours to run the gear, then there was supper. On this one occasion we were treated to bottled rabbit. There were four of us this trip and the man from Newfoundland brought Mason jars full of rabbit. He had trapped them the winter before and preserved them in a mild brine with garlic and onions. With the water boiling and some potatoes and carrots peeled we filled a large pot. Gently easing three jars of the rabbit into the pot alongside the vegetables we made tea and waited. This September evening was dead calm, the water a sheet of glass reflecting a purple sunset, a very beautiful night. While waiting to pass the time we jigged for cod to no avail. Another hour later and we are all sitting on the rail, our plates filled with supper. The rabbit cooked in its own gravy was wonderful. The aroma, I am sure, hit land. Tea with sweet milk, as we sopped up the gravy, was like a dessert. I had not felt so satisfied with a meal. As it does though, a supper like that makes one tired. Checking the anchor and the forecast we were ready for the bunk. I opted to sleep on deck and curled up with a sleeping bag. I didn't sleep much that night, the stars so brilliant, the gentle lap of a changing tide against the stern. When I did it was in increments of maybe thirty minutes and on waking each time the sky had changed. It became overcast and a light rain fell. When dawn arrived the rain had stopped. The cool moist air had washed my face clean of salt. We hauled back and set for port. I can't remember that catch but what will stick to me like bottled rabbit to one's ribs, is the feeling of an affinity with  this planet and our insignificance as we occupy this large space - just a blip on the radar. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

15 minutes at dusk

what we find not thirty feet from the side door.
one doesn't need to go too far to immerse ourselves
in other worlds.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Summer in the north

the cotton rope hangs straight down
what could have been tied to a wharf
moving on an outgoing tide
suspended from the thick pine branch
no swinging today
this day when the humidity soars
and the air turns to droplets
dripping from my brow

looking up the rope
the needles fall like arrows
from the canopy where the birds
are not
their songs missing
at seven
in the morning

this day of heat
i wait
like waiting for water to boil
i wait
for frost filled mornings
and the tourists to leave
with their gas guzzled motors
and attitudes that will choke you up as
all that
when the roads will
once again be for quiet drives
and the rope will swing
in a cool
morning breeze

bring it on i say
and i don't want to rush time
as it moves too quickly these days
but bring it on
the northern air
that cleanses
the spirit
clears the eyes
of summer's
two week holiday a year
of special salmon dinners
and eggs over easy
with whole wheat toast
for twenty-three

bring it on i say
just one more time
so that i may breathe in
all this summer
and exhale
a grand fall.

Friday, August 6, 2010

the bee and the statue

he was attracted to the flower as was the bee,
the fragrant excitement of the
 sweet nectar was intoxicating.

in wondering of the bee attending to this flower
he looked on
in silence.