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Harvesters of night and water.

In night's broken waters here is the boat, white and small with tiny men, with impotent nets limp as poverty that when it ends takes more than needs. In midnight the circle of light in the boat is filled with men and white arms, with ropes moving like promise, and nets pulling up the black and icy waters a blue crab tender inside its shell, a star from another night of darkness than ours, a glass-eyed halibut so much larger than death that the boatman must shoot it and shoot again and in night, fire flashes from the gun like a flower that blooms madness and is gone. Every yields is shining and alive, and then at daybreak the octopus, the men pulling at it, but is many arms fight hard, hold fast and tight against the held boat, in struggle with air and men, holding as they scream. They want it. They need it. They are fighting. It is a valuable thing. It will be used as bait. It will sell for two hundred dollars. It will be cut into pieces, will be taken from the cut insides of halibut and used again. The men are still screaming fighting, but it cleaves to the white boat, wearing the shine of water. Its eyes do not look at the men as they hook it with grapping hooks. It faces the black, cold waters it has been pulled from. The tentacles fold over themselves and inch down, with the men screaming, jabbing at it. I want to stop them. I want to tell them what I know, that this life collects coins like they do and builds walls on the floor of the sea.
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Author:Hogan, Linda
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:May 1, 1993
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