by Marshall Jamison

It was the kind of day if you were fishing or hunting or haying
You thanked the Good Lord for, not quite, but kinda like praying.
In the distant sky to the South an eagle flew, soaring high
Against the sun
And in the bay a school of tinker mackerel surfaced for
A frantic run.

At our camp the tide was almost high and so were the two
Who pulled their skiff towards our shore,
Awash in salt water and empty bottles
Of what had been Feigenspan beer, and a tubful
Of mackerel or more.

The bigger of the two men, wearing heavy overalls and
Tall rubber boots stood up to drain the dregs of
A bottle of gin.

He staggered as the little boat rolled on the tide,
Still coming in,
And before he could regain his frantic balance
He yelled, took a drunken step or two as if in a
Crazy dance
And fell full length over the side, hitting his head
On an empty oarlock
Then sank out of sight like a huge, heavy, insensate rock.

His partner screamed hoarsely, “He can’t swim” and
Drunkenly threw a loose oar after him.

I, with my customary swift response to danger or
Emergency stood transfixed, wide-eyed, grim.

But my buddy, Jimmy Mack, without a word dove
Into the frightening swirling flood.

Searching quickly below the surface he came up
Empty, pale, face drained of blood.

A deep, deep breath and down again under the boat
He swam without a sign of fear.

The prayer I’d saved that morning was now
Answered loud and clear!

For suddenly out of the briny dark sea water
I saw two heads appear!

And grabbing the line I threw to him
Jim Hauled the big drunk out and onto shore.

Where gasping and crying, belching and retching
He swore to us he’d drink no more.

Later his partner too swore off the booze
Since they’d drunk all they had
He had little to lose.

We let them go easy with only this rub
We asked for and got half the mackerel in the tub
So in our own way, we too, went fishing that day!