The Fisherman

January 18, 2016

Tears track his leathered face like seawater spilled from a sinking hull...

Lampedusa Island, Italy

There are heroes in the seaweed.
  -Leonard Cohen

Tears track his leathered face like seawater

spilled from a sinking hull, last night’s catch

hauled from a wreck of scorched Eritrean

refugees who foundered in surge beyond

the Island of Rabbits, hundreds schooled

around a seven meter skiff, his right arm

winching line, twenty survivors dragged

on board before his shoulder froze

and the ship listed starboard, waves

withholding judgment as he red-lined to harbor.

They say a one armed Italian has lost his voice,

and this morning his fluent arm mimes clear air

in graceful arcs and staccato bursts, fist pounding

south, injured arm locked in a sailcloth sling,

torn tendons helpless against gravity,

nails clawing canvas too tough to grip.

 

“The Fisherman” was commissioned by the Terezin Music Foundation (terezinmusic.org) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of  the Nazi concentration camps. The commissioned poems were published by Beacon Press in the 2015 anthology, Liberation: New Works on Freedom From Internationally Renowned Poets.