The Fog Warning, Halibut Fishing, Winslow Homer, 1885.

Chill of morning mist, hilltops shrouded
By scudding cloud, do I stay by warm
Hearth fires or venture into lost, lonely
Heights? “What will it be, Willow?” Papa
Asked, answer known too well. Island
Folk enduring foggy-weather weeks,
Cold winds descending warm coastal
Waters, fog rolled, tumbled in, boats
Beached, mama stirred fiery coals, hot
Tea, porridge, cottage we remained.

“Take Beven, Willow,” Papa said. “He
Knows way home if you become lost.”
Two black sheep fold-straying, peat
Pony Beven and I took to distant hills,
Cold mist shawl-clinging, Beven’s coat
Drizzle-covered, life below dissolved
Into madding realms, vaporous wisps
Swirled round, form-taking, tortured
Faces, tangled tendrils, hair and beard,
Raw bones wrapt by sea-tattered rags.

Shipwrecked off outer Hebrides, cloud
Rising ghosts of old seafarers, fog they
Sailed, searching still for safety of island
Shores. Howling tempests pushed sailing
Ships upon killing rocks, timbers torn
Asunder, mariners lost to murky depths.
O! Breath of death, they begged for rescue
From perilous waters, clawing, pulling,
Stench of hopeless persuasions, I knew
Not how, relieve their anguished pains.

Haunted hilltops, by Beven’s whimpers,
Desolate paths he turned around, home
Leading, briny dead still beckoning. Alas!
Swallowed whole I was by fog, lost as old
Seafarers. Beven’s incessant pulls, bridle
Rope grasped, few turns around my wrist,
Lifeline to living world, we plodded home
Stone-by-stone, until first glimmer of
Cottage lights, welcoming parents, sips
Of tea, warming fires, cold to my bones.

Written on rainy night, thanks for reading. 

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