Lament for an illegal immigrant
No moon, but fishermen
are used to that and the sea’s chanting,
the descant of the nets.
The decks silvered with sea verses,
the minims and trebles of fish
hushed into songbooks of ice.
Something didn’t sing, humped
in the net, thudding onto the deck.
Its ears heard no notes, its eyes were blind
to the men standing by, its throat
choked with words
that no one would hear.
They let the sly octopus
sidle to the ship’s side, forgot to stop
the arch and leap of bream.
The sea moaned, the fish
slipped out of tune, the kittiwakes
hurled screeches like broken strings.
The men unfroze, thumped
what didn’t sing, what was lost for words,
over the hissing deck. Tipped that which had
no hope, had never had a hope,
back to the sea. No
word, no hymn, no prayer.
But the wrack in the nets wept. The sea
beat its fists on the boat. And the wind got up
and howled till dawn.