Ben Jonson

11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637 / London / England

Evening: Barents Sea

The trawl of unquiet mind drops astern

Great lucid streamers bar the sky ahead
(bifurcated banners at a tourney)
light alchemizes the brass on the bridge
into sallow gold
now the short northern
autumn day closes quickly

the thin coast
(of grey Norway is it, or of Russia?)
distinguished only as a formal change
in the pattern of clouds on our port side

on the deck the strung lights illuminate no
movement but the sullen swill of water
in the washer, but the unnatural way
dead starfish and disregarded dabs swim
in the strict seas surging through the bilges
and out. A fishgut hangs like a hank of
hair from the iron grill in a pound board

brighter now that the sun, the fishfinder's
green bleep catches the skipper's intentness

and the trawl is down, is out, is catching!
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