A gale force blew across the sound that October night
when the MISS LINDSAY dragged her anchor
and rolled her keel
in the shallows of Portage Island
before eight bells tolled over Bellingham Bay.
Was it a rogue that broke the swell
and swamped this purse seiner,
her nets stowed and holds clean,
and drowned these fishers
of Russia’s tides and Mexico’s shores?
With voices hushed and tears freely flowing,
the mourners still hear a crewman’s voice—
once crisp and clear—now a whisper in the wind:
Do not wait for our watch to end.
Do not wait for eight bells to toll over Bellingham Bay.
The seiner’s pulsing diesels vibrate the sea
under gray and misting skies.
Its crew tosses a wreath on the quivering bay.
With their skiff, they circle
as if pursing their comrades’ last cast.
They return to their stations
and sail into nightfall
leaving their tribute
to bob on the harbor eddy
in eerie afterglow of fishing lights.
Hale Passage, Puget Sound, WA