They say that every day itīs a work of God

when the captain fits his belly

into the tiny bridge of the St. John.

With his crew of two heīs famed to cast more nets than anyone

his license is for angler fish

but if a rock crab, squid, or lobster gets entangled with his catch,

he takes it home, or brings it to his barmanīs wife.


His ship is the smallest in the port

and every night her elfin form

takes shelter in the thickset web of  moorings

while evening promenaders on the pier

search her out amid the argosy,

the wee St. John, flagship of the seaīs vicissitudes that day;

if she is back in harbor, then all the fleet is safe.


Sometimes the captain goes to sea

when larger boats and angels fear to tread;

he trusts technology, his radar is as grand as on the grandest ships,

a top-heavy aegis riding shotgun on the waves.


His wife is a redhaired Galician

with perennially tousled and unruly curls,

Rubenesque, with porcelain skin in winter that tans to honey beige,

a lilting giggle,and a smile that dances in her eyes;

her teeth protrude in a bewitching way

so that her mouth never really closes,

a seductive imperfection to accentuate her grace.

Her blood pressure runs high;

it canīt be easy, comments go, living with the captain.


Weather permitting, she sews his nets

on the porch of their workshop cabin

that sits on the curve to the harbor.

She likes to visit as she works;

she knows the news of all the town,

weddings, births, and for whom the bells were tolling.

She never criticizes, and she says

the best we give to anyone

is the benefit of a doubt.

As she chats she slowly ambles backward,

stretching loops and weaving mesh that hang from a nail in the wall

her hands a blur, more quick than any eye can follow

but as she speaks or sings she never drops a knot

of her fishermanīs filigree.


At end of day her hands begin to slow,

her gaze drifts out to the horizon,

and as she sews she keeps her watch for the St. John.

When its bantam form appears, she minds its slow approach;

then while the captain squeezes his belly from the bridge,

drops anchor, moors his ship, and with his mates unloads his catch

and throws his torn and useless nets ashore,

she goes to the mirror, smooths her salted lips with balm,

pats her cheeks, and brushes her unruly curls;

when he arrives,

she helps him change his rubber boots and soaking clothes,

hangs his souīwester up to dry, and locks the cabin door;

and chatting of their day they go to A Marina Bar

where she drinks her carbonated apple juice

and he his Seagramīs Hundred Pipers

that he used to drink with Coca-Cola, but since

the doctor said heīs getting older, and needs to heed  his heart

and he knows Coca-Cola isnīt healthy,

nowadays he mixes water with his whiskey.


And on those days when the sky turns black,

gales blow, and torrential rains come suddenly,

as routinely comes to pass in Galician coastal waters,

or when her captain has gone out alone,

she sits at her cabin window, the lace of  her net in her lap,

her hands stock still, her smile and giggle gone,

with eyes that cleave to the sea,

awaiting the return of the St. John.




© Copyright 1998 Patricia Jane St. John Danko