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.