Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Up with Fishermen and Birds

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

In her recent collection Bog Orchids, Susan Deborah King explores the people and places of her beloved Great Cranberry Island. Today’s poem shows us island life during an early morning in August.

Up with Fishermen and Birds by Susan Deborah King

As first light copies from the sky its pink
onto the water, and lobster boats
motor out to drop or pull their traps; as they
swish deftly the long train of their wakes
around buoys bobbing proud, heraldic colors
over the sea’s wave-smoothened field;
as captains in orange waders stand at the helms,
or lower traps over the gunwales,
their engines rasping like morning
trying to clear its throat; as deer bow
in an attitude of worship, into the mist
hovering just above the meadow,
their backs caught tawny in the rising light;
as bees make their gold-gathering rounds
of poppies, balm and mallow; as crows
harangue each other; as the hummingbird whirrs
to probe the fuchsia for its breakfast juice;
as the phoebe keeps putting its name
before the world, and the morning glory
composes itself in the shadows waiting
for a spotlight before it blows its horn zenith blue –
in this hour, the poet too is at work, alert
in her cerulean chair on the porch.
Binoculars handy, books stacked around her,
she bears witness to the beginning, embellishing
the fresh, clean pages of the day with words of praise
that we have once again come whole, come new
                                           out of the dark, out of the dark.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 Susan Deborah King. Reprinted from Bog Orchids: Island Poems, Island Institute, 2010, by permission of Susan Deborah King. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.