Donna Simons 1960 (Bronx, NY)October 22
Razor-sharp winds toss a lone ship at sea
into crushing waves, godless, unholy.
Hail and lightning shatter the sky as
thunder taunts souls too young to die.
Good men of Montauk go one by one,
no goodbyes, just gone, as morning comes.
The storm subsides, without sympathy
for a lone survivor and his dying dreams.
He’d trusted in nature all through his life,
accepting sea scars like love from a wife.
Now failed by instinct and all he has known
He cries out prayers long since outgrown.
Contrition he casts to the lonesome sea,
faith resurrected from child memories.
Swollen, broken, hurting and numb,
through desperate tears, understanding comes;
the work he’d lived for had left so little time
for the woman he knows is now waiting and crying.
His ship, like a mistress, always swept him away
from home and his wife, for whom he now prays.
Her sweet face is with him and he feels her warm hands
and remembers her dancing in the rain on the sand.
He trusted the skies and the stars to the end,
forsaking values of God-fearing men.
Now as nature destroys all he’s lived for
he pleads to the saints of childhood lore.
But there’s no answer today, just the timeless sea
the damp chilly dawn, and love’s memories.
Facing his end, knowing he’s lost
he clings to the mast and signs the cross.
While his ship descends to the ocean deep,
the fisherman cries, “Lord, listen to me!
I can’t survive, won’t drift back to land,
to my home, my woman, our lives and our plans,
please keep her strong, somehow let her know,
how much I love her, though it never did show.”
The salt of her tears and the scent of her skin
for a moment are real, alive, and with him.
“Holy Mother, my God, I don’t want to die”
Terrified, lost, he closes his eyes, and
with all words lost to the uncaring rain,
he descends to death with a final Amen.
All he’d believed in through his short earthy life
were his ship, her strength, and the stars’ guiding light.
“The Windblown” he’d named her, tempting fate,
mindless of legends and God's willful ways.
As his world died, as hope faded with fear,
he cried out to the Christ of his childhood years.
But no miracles today, just the drift of the sea,
a foggy dark morning, a loving memory,
About this poem
I wrote the first draft of this in April 1984 as I sat at the tip of Montauk Point, NY, taking in the devastation of an unexpected nor'easter. This is about a ship, The Windblown," that went down during that storm. My then husband had been asked to work that trip but declined. I recall being angry at him for turning down the work because he tended to avoid work when he could. I knew one of the fishermen who died that day, and my then-husband knew all four of the crew well. This poem is my interpretation of a fisherman's last moments of life at sea. Poem was revised many times with last draft 2022. more »
Submitted by donna.m.simons on October 24, 2022
Modified on April 28, 2023
- 2:14 min read
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|Scheme||XAAXBXCAX DDEEAF XCXXXGXH XIJJAF XXXAHXKK XXBXXI DXXGXXAA|
|Closest metre||Iambic pentameter|
|Stanza Lengths||9, 6, 8, 6, 8, 6, 8|
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"The Fisherman" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 8 Dec. 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/143691/the-fisherman>.