“Gulf of Maine winter gale, waves heaving
and foam-streaked…”

Gulf of Maine winter gale, waves heaving
And foam-streaked, Derek had two-day
Window to haul traps on ocean side of
Isle of Haut, water 200 feet deep, until
Tragedy struck, capsizing his lobster boat,
Rumors of rogue waves, smashing his boat
Into debris floating amongst island rocks.

Derek and his sternman knew the risks,
As did we all, constant burdens endured,
Listening on VHF marine radios, voices
Of reassurance, hope by word of mouth,
Everyone knew each other in Stonington,
Their boats, where they set traps, more
Than community, one lobstering family.

Maine winters, chilling effects of wind-
Blown freezing spray, numbing heart,
Flesh, marrow, senses and direction lost
When Derek’s boat “Sarah Lynn” failed
To return, buoys and his throw ring on
Ocean surface, visible and disappearing
In windswept pitching seas.

Derek’s Sarah Lynn crying in my living
Room, pregnant with their second child,
Baby bump, toddler in her arms, friends
And neighbors coming over in shifts,
Casseroles, warm yeast rolls, vegetables,
Hot coffee, enough food for a dozen boat
Crews, Derek’s place at the table empty.

In quiet night, I record my fears, how will
We survive? Christmas, New Year’s, who
Will pay the bills, take care of Sarah’s rent,
Children, my grandchildren? Do we hold
Memorial services, no funeral arrangements
Made, Derek’s body has not been found,
Some say it may never be.

Thus is my prayer tonight, that Derek’s
Death was quick, sea swallowing him and
His boat in moments not in hours, that
God will receive his soul and grant us
Strength to persevere in this adversity,
Winter nights dark and cold, help us with
Our grief, burdens of not knowing.

Whilst this poem is not based on this news article, it relates the
risks and personal tragedies of Maine lobstermen deaths.
Click here for more on rogue waves.

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