The Write Sisters: Poetry Friday–The Fate of Fishermen
I don’t eat fish with scales and fins except for the occasional tunafish sandwich. I’ve never liked fish, and now, it’s too late to change my mind. Still, I appreciate those who risk their lives on the water to harvest the sea’s bounty. So, today I’d like to share a poem by Mary Oliver and another by Shirley Graves Cochrane. (Cochrane’s poem I posted at my library blog back in March, but it is a poem that sticks with me and begs to be repeated.) Despite being very different, both end nearly the same.
by Mary Oliver
isn’t a place
but a fact, and
under its green and black
cobbled coat that never
happens on land, on some
hairpin piece of road,
we crawl past,
over and over that moement
of disaster. After the storm
the other boats didn’t
hesitate–they spun out
from the rickety pier, the men
bent to the nets or turning
the weedy winches.
Surely the sea
is the most beautiful fact
in our universe, but
you won’t find a fisherman
who will say so;
what they say is,
See you later.
Gulls white as angels scream
as they float in the sun
just off the sterns;
everything is here
that you could ever imagine.
And the bones
of the drowned fisherman
are returned, half a year later,
in the glittering,
by Shirley Graves Cochrane
“Ladies and gentlemen–
the sweaters of old Ireland!”
and down the runway come
Maeve and Erin and the other Dublin models
hips switching, eyes scorning
and Maurice, sheepish in his cowl.
“Each household has its special pattern–
you could tell a family sweater anywhere.”
Aye–even at the bottom of the sea:
for grannies knit the shrouds of grandson
fishermen who never learned to swim
(to keep the agony of drowning short).
And long after the eyes were gone
and fish explored the geography of skull
the sweaters held and told us who they were–
Cormac and Tom and even Donovan.
See how the stitches knit the bones together.
Now, to counteract the depressing mood I’ve probably left you in, go visit Jama Rattigan at Jama’s Alphabet Soup for the Round-Up. You can never visit Jama and not come away feeling lightened, refreshed, and completely nourished!
Photo courtesy Library of Congress.