For the F/V Destination


I spend the evening in pajamas
not in orange raingear — sleeves and boots
duct-taped closed to keep icy water
from soaking my hoodie, sweats and long
underwear as I pick Bering Sea crab
in February.

The living room fills with warmth
from the gas fireplace I switch on with
a click of the remote instead of working
on an iced-over deck under orange sodium lights
in 11 degrees and 100% humidity.

I recline in my easy chair, cat purring on footstool
next to the blanket wrapped round my legs;
I don’t have to stop what I’m doing to turn my back
and brace against the wave crashing over me,
threatening to slam me across the deck
or worse, wash me over.

I pick up my iPad, check my mail, my messages,
play solitaire as the TV drones, no sledge in hand
cracking ice on the rails, from the rigging and the pots
stacked 20 feet high, fighting to keep the boat
from getting too top heavy in freezing spray.

I speak into the new TV remote: Watch Masterpiece Theater,
and it automatically changes channels. There was no
time for a microphone on the 98-foot Destination tonight.
The only way anyone knew she went down in the dark water
off St. George Island was an automatic EPIRB signal
they found the next day, floating in the oil slick.

§

It’s never the first one, one of their brothers said.
They probably took a big wave that put them on their side,
then another and another… the only ones who know
for sure are at the bottom of the ocean.

Six people. Six fishermen at the rail, looking at a sunset
thinking of home, thinking about tomorrow.

 

A collection of stories from guest authors.

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