Ghost of a Bay


A cherished bay is desolate,

brackish seaweed asleep,

frustrated seagulls have all fled,

hungry cormorants huddle

on a silent buoy.


Once a crystalline bay,

a gill net set at dusk

yielded enough mackerel

to feed a whole family

a winter's supply of salt fish.

Trays of steamers, mussels

quahogs, oysters and bar clams

filled to the brim at every ebb tide,

sea-trout skipped over whitecaps,

python-long eels scurried into traps,

lobsters could always be poached

when the law was out of sight.


Now fishermen stand like the clay

soldiers at the Chinese tomb,

peering at the barren sea,

fishing boats glumly hauled away

breadwinners all on "pogy."

Foreign trawlers sucked up fish,

underbelly of the bay new home to PCBs.

Eels now slither across the road, dead mollusks,

crabs and jellyfish line the oil slick shore.

Estuaries languish and weep,

tides paralyzed in mourning.

Even the wind has gone away.


Milton P. Ehrlich