The smoke brought a crab boat to our rescue: black steel,
cracks in the storm windows, just back from winter
in the Bering Sea. Unshaven men stood at the rail
peering down at us, one of their heavy tie up lines
landed on our deck, a fire extinguisher stood ready.
Shouts were exchanged. No flames reported.
Smiles formed in their beards. The engineer climbed
down to examine our problem. His thick oil-stained hands
moved with experience. He spit on deck after he talked
wiped his nose with his sleeve. His advice sounded simple,
they towed us back to the harbor.
Side by side we traveled. I watched lines: taut, slack
taut as our little pleasure boat tried to keep up.
The unshaven men returned, took turns smoking cigarettes,
watching our progress. A woman appeared, dressed like the men
a black wool coat and knee-high rubber boots.
Her hair danced wild around her face. She winked,
gave me a gentle wave. I blushed, looked at my feet.
Before leaving us safe in the harbor, they accepted food
and drinks. They told us of their season, each person
adding details to the story: high winds, shallow waters,
icy decks, plentiful crab and a good price. Sometimes
the speaker would pause, look off over our heads, searching
for the words that could make us understand
living on the ocean, through the season of darkness,
on the rise and fall of thirty foot waves. I surveyed the boat:
contents of the window sills, slow turn of the radar, dents
along the hull, orange and yellow raingear hanging
from the back of the house. The woman caught me staring,
motioned me closer, offered her hand from over the rail.
First appeared in Rain Magazine, Spring 2007.