The Old Fisherman
by Robert Huntington (1958-)
Once an old fisherman dwelt by the ocean
Remote where few men might see,
Early each dawn with cautious devotion
He’d put his dory to sea.
He fishes over the sunken ledges
And always patiently
He lets his line out, waits and pledges
Fidelity to the sea.
He reclines unmindful of the slaughter
Endemic upon the land;
One hand on the line, one dipped in the water
As if to hold its hand.
And after long hours when his gaze (like his boat) is
Fixed on the changing sea’s gray,
The neap tide ebbs from beneath his notice,
Silently slipping away.
And all at once he finds himself stranded
On a ledge wind-swept and bleak,
But his simple thoughts remain guileless and candid;
He takes in the line and speaks:
“As I, O Sea, am your wave-worn minion
(Likewise this shelterless stone),
You too are under another’s dominion;
By the moon’s decree you lie prone.”
He spends the night awake on his prison
And endures the cold without shock;
By daybreak the waters have rearisen
And again he’s released from his rock.
One imagines him in a strange vision
At the end of earth’s given span,
Inattentive to apocalyptic fission;
The last judgment of God or man.
As the solitary exile once viewed it
While, watching the triremes pass by
His lonely Aegean island, he brooded,
Of a sudden the sea burns dry.
And again he sits on his rock forsaken
Without cursing his current state
Whose duration he can not know, but unshaken
He just takes in the line and waits.