In this week’s poem, “The Fog Warning,” David Moreau gives us a glimpse of several stories with a Winslow Homer painting as their center of gravity. I love this poem’s conversational tone, its engaging storytelling voice and its quiet compassion.

Moreau’s chapbook of poems about his experience working with people with intellectual and physical disabilities, “You Can Still Go to Hell and Other Truths about Being a Helping Professional,” was published in 2007 by Moon Pie Press. His poems have been read by Garrison Keillor on the Writers’ Almanac podcast, and he has performed his work at the Rockport Opera House with Kate Barnes and Gordon Bok. He lives in Wayne.


The Fog Warning

By David Moreau


That big oil by Winslow Homer

stopped us in our tracks alright;

a guy in oilskins shrouded in a rainbow of gray,

rowing a dory into a great wave.


I’d dragged Miller to the Museum

before the Red Sox game,

back when we did such things.

He knew all about the fishing,

when the cod was thick in the sea

and lone men used hand lines

on the Georges bank,

bringing their catch back to the schooners

for salting – cheap protein for the city poor

and good money for the fishing bosses.


The guy in the painting, though magnificent,

was no boss. Great muscles straining

in his forearms, broad back bent to the oars,

two halibut the size of children flopping at his feet,

head turned to a ship in the far corner moving away.


Miller assured me the little boat was stable

and they’d come back for him after the weather.

But I couldn’t get over leaving him there –

and spluttered while we both stood gaping,

each with our own imperfect knowledge

of the world and its betrayals.


It turns out I was safe on the big ship that day,

a wife at home who’d be there when I got back,

but Miller was headed into a storm,

divorced six months later,

not that he said a word the whole day.


Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “The Fog Warning,” copyright © 2020 by David Moreau, appears by permission of the author.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: