Remembering Bridget

Issue FourPoetry

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(Bridget Cox Bishop, 1848-1912)

 

By Geoff Budden

 

J Cox and his five sons

lost in their boat off

the Harbor April 24, 1859.

 

When their dory failed to make it

she was the girl on the shore;

witness to the opposite of a miracle.

 

We sing of the men who rant and roar;

who sailed up Golden Bay;

whose dreams survived the night.

 

But what of Bridget?

what song or faith could comfort her

that Easter Sunday in 1859?

 

In time she became

a fisherman’s wife, a mother,

a maker of fish and of homes

 

but always barometer-haunted,

anxious with every rising wind:

storm-savaged.

 

Living and dying in saltsprayed houses;

the ocean, murderous and grey,

visible always.

 

Oceans of tears; dreaming of waves,

of fathers and sons and of unburied brothers,

of things endured, of things survived.

 

Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.