Abandoned, it had tottered for years
on the water's lip, or lap. Squatter-pigeons
occupied its nights, dreaming of drowning in glottals.
Then suddenly some trucks arrived
and hauled away enormous rusted remnants
of the cannery's cookery. Inside a week,
the great stained concrete that had poured down
fifty years and twenty feet into the tide
was sheathed in plywood trundled from
a local lumberyard. The whole place bloomed
with polyester greenery and sky-blue styrofoam.
And sure enough, from somewhere south,
with a flourish of romance, and a big RV,
he brought his wife of decades here to live
in dreamland--at the dead end of the island's
eastmost street, where he would twinkle,
she abide. The new red retort room
now bore his greatest masterwork:
nailed near the Wal-Mart welcome sign, a homemade
six-foot jigged-out replica of trawler, painted up
as jaunty as you like, the city-cousin of the working ones
that trudged the fishless fathoms on the house's darker side.
It was his bid at immortality: we liked him more, the more
he tried. He beamed past every tiredness of a day (retired
by choice!), past eking out, past aching in. He shone
like someone past the past, with whom resides
what conquers all. And then she died.