On Tanner's 'Night'

Man and boy, the fishermen return
well after sundown—no fish—
when they finally bring their boat in for the day.

It's early winter, maybe, they huddle together
against the harbor, rolled up in raincoats,
going home through streets that are night-quiet—you can guess

it was the boy who kept them out so long
with so little, not wanting to see defeat settle
in his dad, while father knows the sea can chill

and his boy's feet are soaked in salt-water,
but wanting to please lets his son cast
once more before turning shoreward,

where on the land their figures merge with darkness
as they walk home without a catch—but you notice
the lantern: the light overwhelming the canvas,
held between a father and a son.

by Philip Ciampa

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