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Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Sardine Packer
Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate
Through the haunting voice of this week’s poem, Tom Sexton of Eastport remembers the vanished world of sardine packers in the canneries of Lubec, Maine.
Sardine Packer by Tom Sexton
The moon drew the bay to itself like a lover at full tide when I was young and full of life. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.Silver fish spilled from every net, and all my days were buttery when I worked at the cannery. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.My children came to see me work. I was the fastest on the line. They liked to slide in herring slime. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.The new owner won’t come to town to watch us nip and cut and pack. He bought and gave us all the sack. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.My daughter’s made her final bow. My grandson’s crying on my knee. But they can’t live on scenery. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.Summer people come here now to walk along the quiet bay. I had my time. I had my day. Oh, I could make my scissors dance.
Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Tom Sexton. Reprinted from Bridge Street at Dusk, Loom Press, 2012, by permission of Tom Sexton. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.