Salty men stand huddled on the wharf
with shoulders hunched against the morning chill
and hands plunged deep in sandy pockets.
The zip and click of casting reels, icy puffs of breath,
and the shuffle of restless feet set the rhythm
of a fisherman’s lament, of sardines and shrimp,
of prostitutes and unpaid bills–a quiet song
of life exceeding ambition, an anthem of escape.
The old fisherman at day’s end,
his deck scrubbed, catch on ice,
profit spent on fuel and bait and rent,
sat at the bar, his big hand bent
on a glass of Irish whiskey,
and with his arms, spotted and scarred
from a sailor’s life in the shipwreck sun
and knuckles cursed by salt,
the cruel rigging of his craft
and the dark harness of an empty sea,
he lifted drink to peeling lips
and whispered, “Jesus Christ—”
It was his last long cast into the sea.