The Fisherman’s Wife

(for John)

Learning to be yours has been the work
Of a lifetime, begun before I knew you’d chosen me.
Sitting thigh-to-thigh with you
In a creaking, undulating boat I saw
Your skill at choosing lures, at casting
Enticements on the water. And so I was hooked.
I watched your hands and your eyes,
A student of your weather, and learned
Which balms best calmed your waters.

When you leave me on gray seas I wait,
My watch begun before you crest
The horizon, and are gone from me.
Do you hold it in the net of your mind, these
Four days when I’ll ply my needle, walk the shore,
Keep our home, caress the strings of your guitar
Just to hear it moan? At night our bed
Is somehow narrower in your absence.
I dream of tentacles and wait for your return.


This poem is partly in response to Ezra Pound’s “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.” It also engages with Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. (Link is not work-safe.)


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