Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Fog-Talk

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

The late Philip Booth, a resident of Castine, lived in a house that had been in his family for five generations. Here, he describes an encounter with a fellow townsman and childhood friend.

Fog-Talk by Philip Booth

Walking the heaved cement sidewalk down Main Street,
I end up where the town bottoms out: a parking lot
thick with sea-fog. There?s Wister, my boyhood friend,
parked on the passenger side of his old Dodge pick-up.
He?s waiting for Lucia, the girl who drives him around
and feeds him, the one who takes care of him at home.
Wister got married late. Wifeless now, no kids, he?s near
sixty-eight. Like me. Watching the ebb, looking out into 
the fog. Fog so thick that if you got shingling your roof
you?d shingle three or four courses out onto
the fog before you fell off or sun came. Wister knows
that old joke. Not much else, not any more. His mind drifts
every whichway. When I start over to his old pick-up,
he waves to my wave coming toward him, his window half up,
half down. He forgets how to work it. I put my head
up close. Wister, I say, you got your compass with you
to steer her home through the fog? Wister smiles at me with
all sorts of joy, nodding yes. He says I don?t know.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1999 Philip Booth. Reprinted from Lifelines, Viking Penguin, 1999, by permission of Philip Booth. 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.