Bare Island

Thirty-five southeast
the wind is with us;
we race towards Bare Island
cutting phosphorescence
by light of our radar
glowing orange
in half light,
and when the anchor is dropped
land melts, speckles of the fleet
spread into orange
grey orange
and a circle of black.

We cut the engine, and
with dark spits like the arms of
an octopus around us,
the anchor lights of
some hundred boats around us
clustered into tentacle buds,
as anything electric
to the night,
we pour the last of the whisky
and hunch in the galley for warmth.

Trawlers still run in,
slipping the length of the island
looking for a dark place,
like so many lit parasites,
and when they find it
there they hang,
against the wind.

Well into night
the squall changes direction;
southwest drags our anchor.
With black water sounds
scraping hull
the inside dark as pitch,
we rock in our bunks.
Stars cram an overhead hatch.
The clock ticks,
wood with metal,
breathing with precision,
but darkness is the only measure of light.

When Bare Island spreads grey as land;
when the wind slackens,
another day of fishing begins
and grey as any other
and yet another day.

:: Carolyn Borsman, in Going for Coffee (1981)

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