Once, the clumping sound of mooring rope
upon the roof and a seagull’s scream
meant easy plunder and those soft things
careless fishers left behind.
with salty slush and basking seals,
lazy perch in the August hum,
brutal waves from winds with names,
and northern lights on moaning ice.
Life was plump
among creosote and rusty spikes,
time to ponder distant islands,
to lie soaked slick from covert swims,
drawing warmth from weathered plank.
He lived tales
of phantom nets and hidden loot,
of judicious lobster and nervous mink,
scratching them down on canvas scraps
with herringbones and codfish hooks.
He now sleeps
late on oakum knots and jigging line
as tar turns slowly into shadow,
and he misses that eel who in style he admired,
came and went like an offshore breeze.
One red dawn
in seaweed strands and ripple marks,
below water too clear and still,
he discerned the future in the past.
He knows that again, if not himself,
nothing soft will ride high tide today.