With a ruddy face of sun-baked skin
and overalls embedded with fish scales,
he’s a grungy old salt who knows the secrets of the earth.

He’s a walking Farmer’s Almanac who can swim
through a swarm of stars and play tunes
under a hovering moon twanging his mandolin.

He makes something out of nothing, building a hovel
out of timbers from old barns scrounged from the dump.
A tarnished silverware chime tinkles in the wind.

He plants blue potatoes, hot-house tomatoes
and succulent strawberries and can’t keep up
with the demand at his roadside stand.

He waits for a winnowing east wind, best tides
for fish and clams, and reveals when mackerel are swimming in.
Up before dawn, he devours each day like a magic bird.

Two nets are set each night. His wife, Malvina , no longer knows
where she is, sits in his rusty Chevy safe from black flies and no-see-ums
as he rows out in the bay in his barnacle-encrusted dory.

A friend of seals bobbing up and down, until they hunger
to harvest his nets, then his shotgun is fired: Boom!
Collects the heads for a twenty-five buck bounty.

He flicks his fly-rod like a picador’s lance,
snagging sea trout where the sweet Dirty River
feeds the briny waters of Saint Mary’s Bay.

A friend of eels, until he nails them to a board,
skinning, smoking them, and shipping them to Germany
for pot-bellied burghers in beer-sodden rathskellers.

In touch with what is, he doesn’t know
he is transcendent. Before he leaves home,
a sign on his kitchen wall reminds him:

“Life is fragile, handle with prayer.”