The Bay at Yakutat


By one hand the knife made ready,
By the other flips a fish,
Suddenly the two are steady
In the rhythm of the slish.

And worthy men and worthy craft
Rebuke the jarring waves that lash
Each man starboard, port and aft,
With bitter wet and violent crash.

And carcass after carcass tossed
Lifeless to the bloody hold
Shimmers, though the light is lost,
And the dreary day grows cold.

And vagrants in the troller’s wake
Bobbing back atop the swells,
Flutter up, then swoop to take
The sacrament of fish entrails.

Here, wind and rain and haze dilute.
Yellow, green, red, brown converge.
And the gray is absolute,
And time and mind and sense diverge.

Moments roll as waves uncounted.
Thoughts are scattered as debris
On pebbles of perception rounded
By the endless surge of sea.

And rivers rise and passion flows
Inward channeled by belief.
Images drift by then go
To certainty, or doubt so brief.

And certain as the sand concedes
To the wash and swirl and spray
So the tide and time recede
Shaping yet another day.

clj – 1984