The Boat Exhorts the Fisherman About His Wife
by Carrie McKay

For days you’ve come to visit.
Rain coat, wet boots, fishing rod.
You sit on my bow
dangling feet in the sand.

Each day your steps drag deeper.
Skin cascades with downcast eyes.
You pull me up shore
and sit quiet, thinking.

For years we’ve been off at dawn.
Two friends spending the sun hours.
Fishing for dinner.
Peaceful lapping waves.

You know only one can row.
Take the ores back from your wife.
This is a whirlpool.
She’s steering you down.

You were kind to that gold child.
The fish, prince, dream destroyer.
Don’t whistle today.
Turn your back and row.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The Boat Exhorts the Fisherman about His Wife” was my response to a challenge of taking on the voice of an inanimate object. In the Russian Fairytale “The Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish” by Alexander Pushkin, the fisherman catches a golden fish and sets it free. His wife sends him again and again to the fish to ask for a wish, each larger than the one before. With each wish the sea becomes more rough and stormy as the fish is angered by the grandiose wishes. In my poem, every day he has to bring his boat further inland. The sea is no longer safe. Imagine the boat, watching this and seeing this bad situation unfold. Like a good dog, it wants to carry the fisherman safely and enjoy their time. The boat knows the importance of happiness over wealth. Like any good friend, he does his best to help the fisherman see the problem and give him comfort.

IMAGE: “The Fisherman and His Wife” by Katrin Brandt (1970).

C McKay Poetry Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carrie McKay is a poet and teller of tall-tales. A convert to the warm So Cal weather, she began writing as a child in Cleveland during those many rainy days. She currently spends her nights harassing children about homework and days holding down a mundane job. Carrie can be found most Wednesday evenings at the Two Idiots Peddling Poetry reading in Orange, California. Her most recent publications can be found in Defenestration and A Poet Is A Poet No Matter How Tall.