We hailed out of Lebec, Maine, independent
Lobstermen working lines of off-shore traps,
South of Fundy Bay, west of Grand Manan
Island, taking last of fall lobsters, before fist-
Hard winters pushed us home, short December
Days, pressing bows covered in freezing spray,
We pitched on slate-grey waves.
Large gloves and boots we wore, precautions
From being pulled overboard if caught in tangled
Lines, sixty-pound traps running off the stern,
Distracted for a moment, rolling seas abeam.
Better a boot pulled off than another Maine lob-
Sterman life lost, dragged under freezing seas
As diesel engines churned in growing swells.
With the first end-line, we dropped sixty-pound
anchors, thirty fathom deep, large floating polyball,
High-rise radar reflector, marking our ten-trap
Trawl, followed by the last end line, another
Anchor and floating ball, stripe-painted bullet
Buoys marked our traps, bobbing floats lifting
And disappearing in cold Atlantic chop.
Weather depending, we soaked traps for five
Days to a week on rocky undersea shelves,
Holding fast in strong currents and heaving
Fundy tides, twenty-foot rising seas strained
Long scopes on trap anchors, constant tug-of-
War, rushing waves against steel dead weight,
Secured with stout half-inch lines.
That fateful morning, warm southerly winds
Swept over cold waters on the Gulf of Maine.
As fog rolled in, Grand Manan cliffs slipped
Perilously from sight. At first, the vaporous
Wall appeared luminescent, roiling as if alive,
In silence it advanced, obscuring low-angled
Winter sun, then broad-blue daylight.
Some say it was malignant how it devoured
Visibility, opaque fog thick as gauze, cunning
Mist enveloped our boat, all direction lost. To
This day, I feel lingering pains, poisonous mist
Maimed us with every breath, lobster boats
Avoiding rocky breakers, scarred by looming
Ice, stark sea dangers, Grand Manan Island fog.
To see Grand Manan Island fog, click this link:
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