A Fisherman Observes

(Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash)

Look to the ships: they trace the sky
In lines of gray and spotty white
In tails of smoke like fishing lines
Against the dying of the light.

Between the glitter of their skins
A swarm ferments, and though the rays
Are bright, the sunshine cannot warm
What lies within. Upon my gaze

The pixels flash; the screen goes black
Such is the fate of shiny things — 
A death a lifetime overdue — 
I leave the house. The sunlight stings.

Beyond the edges of the town
The road fades into mud and murk.
The tops of buildings stagger odd
Within the waters. Here I lurk

Between a huddle of the dead
Titanic bones whose shadows throng
Above the sea — the fishes here
Will not be here for long.

I cast my line and fix upon
The windows laced in mossy coat;
Between the glass, amidst the green,
There sits an old man in a boat.

He looks as if he soon will starve,
And as if that is not enough,
Beyond the tremble of his hand
There lies a bloodstain on his cuff.

His lungs are black; his body shakes
As cough by cough is drawn and cast
In starts and stops. Each moment pulls
To push the next — to stay the last.

And so the sun in dapple falls
To blot the sky in copper hue.
Above the clouds, there should be stars
And in their glow, the chosen few

Whose months will toss and turn and spill
In cryogenic fugue, in dream
Will rise and bloom and then emerge — 
In waking, weary eyes will gleam.

We cannot help but hunger for
The ripples of a fresher fin — 
The riches of a solar tide — 
And so by dusk, the bites begin.

And so in dawn, we cast again
To bait the stars and multiply:
To smoke a world in salt and flame
And bleed another ocean dry.

Alas — the line twitches.
I ease the fellow in.
A wriggling little fish
With scales of burnished tin.