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Song of the Fish-Wife


I felt his curls,

thick as the

market cheese

he once offered

between his thumb

and the fishing knife.

I unrolled his

ballooning trousers,

licked the brine

from his knees.

I thought I might

bear herring

as I sucked the salt

from the lowest moans

of the Dutchman.


He held me down

upon the bed

till the waters

were ripe for fishing.

Then he made me kneel

along the pier,

cut my finger

with a three-pronged hook

and plunged the wound

into the Zyder Zee.


The Dutchman’s ship

now sits far and barren

in the water

and I walk the shore

tossing stones

into his mystery,

wishing those blank months

of sickness away.

And when the cold

brings him to my home,

I will open the front door,

stand on the threshold,

let the stained glass

slam into my body

from the force

of the ocean wind,


As he will want not me

but this guttural child

with fat cheeks the color

of sails.

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