Author’s Note: “The most important information any Bay sailor needs is the weather report available on the VHF radio by the National Marine Weather Forecast. The wise sailor needs daily information about wind strength and direction, the height of waves, and the strength of local currents. From all this some proverbial advice has been distilled, not only small craft prohibitions but the wisdom of being at anchor by 4 PM in the afternoon when most Bay storms are likely to appear and the average length of most thunderstorms coming from the North and the West is an hour. After a sailor has been caught in high winds and waves, the relief of a safe anchorage and survival is often remembered with a drink and a pet or a friend away from windward.”
A Bay Fisherman’s Meteorological Lesson
Good clouds flying west to east make no argument against
the planet’s breath while their horsetails banner the sky.
If we meet in angry confrontation, it’s an offshore front
hiding the sun and landing in a tumbling punt
with increasing frequency, gust after gust pushing us too close
to jagged rocks in rising oceans I’d rather not see,
our innards twisted with vain hopes rocked by reality.
Everything turns in its motion at once, not just our homes
but our fishing boats soaked by a two-ton punch
hitting the gunnels, throwing souls and stomachs up to the sky.
As the pandemic of fear snaps free my gimlet eye awaits
a drop of courage to steer us safely by
having left the sea for a cozy room with pictures of calmer waves
in a drowning town, a drink at my side and a cat to lee.
Michael Salcman is a poet, physician, and art historian. He was chairman of neurosurgery at the University of Maryland and president of the Contemporary Museum. His poems appear in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Café Review, Delmarva Review, Hopkins Review, The Hudson Review, New Letters, and Smartish Pace. Books include The Clock Made of Confetti, The Enemy of Good is Better, Poetry in Medicine, his popular anthology of classic and contemporary poems on doctors, patients, illness & healing, A Prague Spring, Before & After, winner of the 2015 Sinclair Poetry Prize, and Shades & Graces, inaugural winner of The Daniel Hoffman Legacy Book Prize (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020). Necessary Speech: New & Selected Poems was published by Spuyten Duyvil (2022).
Delmarva Review publishes the most compelling new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from thousands of submissions annually. The literary journal is designed by its founders to encourage outstanding new writing for publication. The journal is available worldwide from Amazon.com and other booksellers. Support comes from tax-deductible contributions and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: www.DelmarvaReview.org