Fall gale on Gulf of Maine, smoke pouring
From fishing boat, fire or distress signal,
Burning oil-soaked rope, arms waving on
The bow, Long Island fishermen in trouble,
Steerage lost in six-foot seas. We were three
Women home alone, eyes ever watching on
The gulf, building waves, gathering clouds,
Afraid that winds were pushing our men
Further out to sea.
An open dory was all we had, two sets
Of oars and rudder to steer, three Maine
Women, one boat, we would test our mettle
Against building waves. So we pushed her
Off the beach, rowed hard and navigated,
Pushing east toward the gulf, island on the
Lee until we reached Yellow Head, where
It turned to streaked white caps and spray,
Wind beating us on starboard beam.
We rowed for our husbands, we rowed for
Our island children, kept pushing toward
Deep and darker waters. Into troughs we
Pushed, on waves we rose, glimpse of the
Fishing boat, brief moments connected,
Wind, sea and, clouds, we were all they
Had, Maine women hard rowing, men
Seemingly out of reach, no time to think,
We oar-pulled until our backs ached.
At Eastern Point, all that changed, waves
Pushed us north, riding surf, wind at our
Backs, half-mile away, smoke still pouring,
Arms waving, they were dead off our bow.
Still rowing, we would plow into their side,
Except they were listing, heaving, but so
Were we, seaworthy dory, strong women
Rowing, steering in heavy winds, rolling
on following seas.
We reached the point, we didn’t care, some-
Thing inside turned wild, oars dug deeper,
Longer, I remember leaning back, hands
Blistered, all soaked from spray. We rowed
With love, we cursed the waves, I realized
Then we’d make it, and so we did, three,
Maine women, one boat, our husbands,
Rowing hard to safety of nearby islands,
Course made good on stormy seas.
Poem inspired by driving in torrential
rain from Tropical Depression “Bonnie.”