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Van Gogh's "Fisherman's Wife on the Beach"
by Ed Bennett

the breakers mark each moment
of darkening sky, rising wind.

Are you there as helpmate,
ready with a greeting,
arms to carry the catch
or is he overdue,
an empty horizon feeding
each anxious breath?

The sea takes him
in her sinuous arms,
rocks him on an undulating breast,
rewards him for his fidelity
with the piscine flesh
from her depths

yet can turn,
a bitch goddess
demanding more than he can give,
taking him bodily to her,
the eternal dark kingdom
of broken boats‐
a bier to her many lovers.

You are less than this,
swaddled in coarse brown wool,
isolated on the beach
where he cast off at dawn.

until he rounds the point,
not seeing your obdurate form
as he uses every skill
to land his dory,

finding you there
as an afterthought,
your fears abated for the moment,
your prayers answered this time.


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