|Photo copyright Vivian Faith Prescott|
Here's my poem celebrating the end of the
Alaskan summer & fall fishing season:
The slaves of the Inside Passage
fish on gray water—waves tumbling
over the stern of the skiff,
huge white bellies float up from beneath
the surface. They gaff and heave—
ganions taut, circle hooks flying,
hands slipped inside orange rubber
gloves, wrapping around baseball bats—
thwack—wood cracking, splattering
blood and scales across the gunwales.
Fish blood flies—fins and tails beat
their ankles with force enough
to break a leg—This one’ll pay the fuel bill.
After the commotion dies, bludgeoned
halibut lay silent, one atop another,
sliding along the skiff bottom. The fishermen,
their black hair caked with scales, slime
oozing into salt-cracked fingers,
shout—whoo hoo—across the inlet—
voices rising with the gulls, mingling
in wind and mist. Men so tired as if drunk
on seventy-two hours of nonstop fishing—
red faces, slurred speech, staggering in green
Helly Hansens dripping with stench.
They trudge up my driveway, gravel clacking
beneath their rubber boots, returning home—
smelling of fish and money and sea.
*Photos copyrighted by Vivian Faith Prescott