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  • MLCA

Poetry in the water and in chopping wood

People of the hard oceans The People of the hard oceans are all the same. Stern or merry,or garrulous,or silent as a mooring fieldthese are just phrases Eyes clear or rheumyall strong of hands, all roughmost with scars and each with storiesbut these are just sounds Proud and fierce,or shy and fierceThey are all the same, all the samethese words Look, and you can read them all, the tall and the oldthe bent, the crippled, the deaf Men and women, living atop the deck and the granitewhere the handshake suffices,and ill advised is the broken word or the clenched fistFor the others’ hand may pluck you, prayingFrom the February featherwhite and a turn-turtle hull The young are in the skiffs of the morning harborLearning the cold way, in salt and sweat and blood, because By God you row before you can steam and you'll fish your traps by hand before you ever touch a hauler If you are lucky, you can catch their look, even then growing levelunder the grimy brim, or the hood. These are the phrases and the sounds and the words. See the language of the People of the Sea,all the same, all saying the same thing: 'This is where I belong .'

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