Kendall Merriam: ‘Matinicus, mon amour’

Sat, 07/27/2019 - 4:00pm

For Nellie and Eva

Could any land be farther out?

life there can be hot and lusty

full range of emotions

from Dreamy Ames serving lobster on a string

to high action

a world encapsulated

on a few hundred acres 

Maine knows the most important beast

little green-shelled beasts

demanding the best in boats, bait and high endeavor

otherwise, who could live there

except for a few summer cottages

a land that knows both rum with beer chasers

pulled chilled from lobster cars

to gentle ministrations of the Sunbeam

Does God love the fishermen?

they are strong in their struggles with the sea

always handy with a joke

women of the island

fill all the crevices of rock, cobble and grass

with love and understanding

the coast is not always an easy place

Matinicus seems more isolated

more complicated than most

many of her children move on

after eighth grade

thinking of the smell of the sea

sound of wind and water

before they sleep on the mainland

now with the price so low

will the economy of the wild catches

force a breakup of lineages

so long clinging to that small earth

so small in the vastness of the Atlantic

a vision of men and women struggling

with the elements, space and time

also finding great enjoyment

in the raw but sublime beauty

when we here on the shore

experience fifty knot winds

cannot sleep for the easterly howling

nothing compared to islanders’ needs

a boat, a building, a life could be lost

cutting off livelihood 

that has to be nursed along even in best weather

I’ve only been to the little holy spot once, age ten

for beans and quilt raffles

all the way home the water was firing

expressing the best Neptune could offer

from the path of the seas from Matinicus, mon amour


Kendall Merriam, Poet Laureate of Rockland, Maine