Outer Pool, Gotts Island — photo by author

I figured on an early start,
but I knew,
the way you know the tide,
by feel,
the boat was grounded out.
“Too early, or too late.” Old George lit a Winston
he had a faded old rocker set outside the camp,
facing south, to the open sea.
Watched the boats go out before sun up,
watched them home again when the light faded.
“Same difference ain’t it?”

I guessed it was.
Set about patching gear,
any small thing to make it appear I’d planned it all.
Waited for the tide to feel its way across the flats,
one ripple and then another,
the gulls retreated up the cobble beach
the fog burned off between the islands.
The boats furthest out lifted and swayed, shifting to face the flow.
Impatient, I rolled my hipboots up,
waded out and stepped aboard.
Shifted the buckets of bait,
felt the water run beneath my feet,
felt the lift,
took up an oar and poled my way out.

“Have a care,” Old George called.
I raised a hand
and turned my face to the wind and the call of the day.

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