Don’t forget where you came from. Simple.
Easy like dropping a slut rock tied to a herring
net off the boat’s stern, sidestepping rusted
chains skidding past your feet against the deck’s
worn floor. So many boats on the water
at night, your father calls it a city. Curses
the Bruces for using anchors instead of stones.
They shred the nets, fuckers, using those things.
The pain in your back, your arms, from a night
spent shaking nets. Herring piled past your ankles.
Brandon forgot to open the hatches. Thirty
minutes sleep in forty-eight hours. Set and haul
back while herring blocks blood red on the sounder.
Your father telling you, The work is hard
and the smell follows you but the money don’t
stink, now, does it? That bathing after work
knocks a few scales off. How could you forget
this? Now with your first-ever Starbucks coffee,
facing a four-storey wall of greenery as it filters
the air in this school building. Clean air in your
diesel lungs, a book in your softening hands.
Chris Bailey, What Your Hands Have Done, Nightwood Editions, 2018.
Deirdre Kessler selects a poem a month by an Island poet for The Buzz.