The Last One, a new poem by Kent Bowker

25195l

Gloucester Harbor. 2011 Ned Mueller (b. 1940)

The Last One

Coming from P-town to Gloucester
motor sailing in a calm, lightly ruffled ocean
in the empty bowl of the horizon
we came upon a rusting hulk
brown streaked blackened red side,
slowly turning on the flat black sea.

A long dark rusty gilnetter, lines out,
like a hopeless memory circling in the flat sea
What is beneath this surface for the families?
For the layers of families waiting
for the missing fish money.
The boat’s steel flakes fall off
in the long search for the last fish,
no money in it for paint,
in seeking it rusts away

Dark cavities behind the streaked plates
we see no seaman, maybe a hint of a face
the ship rusts, circling in the flat sea
inside the sharp edge of horizon
the songs of the sea were still
the wind slow

reaching down
for the last fish
long searching, circling
nets winding, futile,
paint chips flaking, gone.
A face appears in the recesses
of the large net wheels
fades back into the indigo
shadows in the turning boat
as if depression driving
the hunter who must hide, –
a recluse of the sea
seining for the last fish.

In its own vortex
scorpion of the mind
repetition, the laying of nets
a slow dervish dance
arms raised like railroad semaphores
for the end of the line, a train coming,
in the desolation of this lifeless desert,
the slow turning over flat water
the dervish spinning ecstasy
is a ritual to invoke
the fish providing spirits.
the slow turning over flat water
slightly scratching the surface
inscribe the tracks of the dance
over depths of the sea
seeking the last fish –

so long out- rusting away
becoming pointless
lost, seeking, –
as the families
are fading
away.

Kent Bowker

Kent Bowker

 

 

 

Kent Bowker  started with poetry at Berkeley in the Fifties, then became a physicist working mainly in optics.  His new book of poems is Katharsis: Sifting Through a Mormon Past.  He lives in Essex, next to the Great Marshes and is treasurer of the Charles Olson Society.

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