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Peter D. Goodwin


Rain, clouds, the heavy atmosphere descends
upon the Bay, closing it off, the sky low and gray
and damp, the rain penetrating, the gray Bay
and the gray sky merging in a diffuse haze
that closes off the Bay, empty but for the rain
and the fog and a lonely boat picking its way
through half hidden crab pots
half hidden by the choppy waters.

Through wet fog—the white silhouette
of a Chesapeake work boat, an oyster tonger, searching, scraping with
large tongues the muddy bottom, plunging down, the boat rocking,

pulling up

the oysters, quickly emptying and sorting the oysters
to different barrels, plunging down the tong, pulling
it up again, a routine quick and hard, a fast wave to a
passing boat, back to his routine, the Bay waterman
working the bay—
the Bay not so lonely
not so austere
not so isolated.


To Top






An expanse of water separates
me from my boat
and now
when I need to reach my boat
and embark on my dream
the wind is building
angry waves are rolling onto the beach
my dream will not be denied
I drag a dingy across the rocky shore
and launch it onto the waves
and the waves bounce it back
the waves flood it as I struggle
to point it and right it and float
the small craft onto the rough waters
and I row it towards the beautiful boat
sitting silently so far away.
The wind grabs the row boat
tries to push it back to land
waves splashing over me
(the water is cold and sharp)
I press on, struggling with the oars
biting into the aggressive waves
my arms my body straining
my muscles screaming
defying the wind, riding the waves
slowly making headway
sometimes slipping backwards
(I’ll not allow the weather
to rule me) I struggle on
towards my dream
and slowly
oh so slowly
I inch towards
the distant boat
the waves, the wind
and eventually I reach the larger boat
ready to relax
but now
the waves are higher and greater
my dream boat is bouncing
rising three, five feet high
and splashing down
hard onto the resisting
waves, my row boat is also bouncing
but the two boats are not bouncing
in unison
but erratically, violently
the big boat jerked by its anchor chain
my little row boat flying free
the two boats want to crash into each other
I struggle to stay in position
I reach I grasp
but my hands cannot hold
the gyrating boat
I am almost pulled
into the roiling waters
I try again, and again
and each time my grip is weaker
my hands are bruised
I am soaked and cold
I am defeated.
I drift away from my dream.
Lethargically I pick up the oars
and with my remaining strength
I slowly row away back to shore.
Once again
I fight the wind
and the waves
who taunt me
lifting me up and thumping me down
my dream
grows small
growing smaller in the distance
as I struggle back to shore
and drag the boat onto the beach
knowing that these winds
will not soon pass
and I am stuck
my dream still distant
and I think kindly of Agamemnon.
I understand.
What is the sacrifice
of a daughter
if the winds
will be kind?


About the Poet

Born in New Jersey, lived (mostly) in England until the age of eighteen; college in Virginia, travelled through Europe and Asia; taught at University in Thailand, elementary school in England, secondary school in Virginia; moved to New York, worked as a playwright, moved to Maryland, bought a boat, writes poetry while providing succulent treats for deer, rodents, birds and insects.