The Fishers of Prout's Neck, Maine

Based on the painting The Herring Net, by Winslow Homer

The fishers hunker under their

Sodden caps glazed with spray, gritting

Their teeth as the horizon swerves and tilts

About them and sheets of ocean billow open

Like murky green sails on which their tiny boat glides.

The wind drags its salt-streaked fingers over their faces,

Hissing as it whips across the frothy crests

Of each coiling wave. The surf splutters splashes of silver

Across the water, the struggling forms of

Helpless herring flopping in the black tangles

Of a net sticky with brine and slime.

The men, with rough and calloused fingers

Like hooks, patiently pull their catch into the battered boat

So exhausted from labor it buckles and groans

Under the weight of men and fish

As the sea shakes her fist in protest.

When the pair return to the rancid docks dotted

With gulls and boats with masts folded like spindly wings.

They will sigh and gaze longingly across the open water

That beckons them home with a hundred gray hands rising

From the steely surf, the rusted oil drum buoys bobbing,

As they stagger towards the sallow lights of the port town,

Their bulky feet struggling to find purchase on solid land.

-Becky Boyle