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  • Fog in Naskeag Harbor
  • Andrew Motion (bio)


When we had done our business with the lobster-man choosing our dinner from dozens of creatures packed in a fiberglass tank in his garage, their pincers pinched in plastic bands but all visibly sensible and frustrated, trampling each other in a muffled underwater passion, antennae desperate for a signal, mud-smudges and jet and startling crimson undercoats the color of pure fury curdling into fury proper when they were hoisted out through suffocating air, bodies in spasm, legs spindling— when we had done our business with the lobster-man he cast a quiet glance at the calm eggshell evening sky and said with the authority of God there would be fog so thick by morning we would not be able to make out our hands were we to raise them in front of our faces. [End Page 30]


Despite or because of this voice being the voice of God come dawn the next day we saw our own hands alright but from the bedroom window overlooking the harbor nothing except a few raindrop-seeds stuck to the glass although we had never heard rain fall, and beyond them a fog so thick there was no telling except by good sense whether the heavens had collapsed or we were lifted up to live in a world without form except as I insist the form of hands in front of our faces, and no way either to know whether we were still anchored and held fast to our point of granite overlooking the bracken-slope and shoreline, or already far out to sea and drifting as the current chose in which case we might strike at any moment on the rocks of Smuttynose or Mahoney or Deer Island and be drowned. [End Page 31]


Then by 8 o’clock another miracle, which on reflection had also been predicted, as the fog quietly became mist and faded, leaving its mother-of-pearl distilled in swathes of crushed shell that pass for sand this far north in Maine, exposing the bracken with its Mowgli fronds bent double under their load of dew, and the bulbous fir tree festooned with votive oars and life-jackets, and wigs of brassy weed which had slithered down to hide the expressions on rocks, and the long harbor where one small island after another shone briefly behind gauze then floated through as itself, and the muscly fishing-boats where at last the lobster-men, one of them our lobster-man, arrived with the first real sun, climbed aboard, then turned their engines and their music on before heading out to sea with cloud still the only horizon. [End Page 32]

Andrew Motion

ANDREW MOTION served as Poet Laureate of the U.K. from 1999 to 2009. He now lives in Baltimore. His forthcoming collection, Coming in to Land, will be published by Ecco Press in January 2017.



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