Fisherman’s Reunion by Karen Mulhallen

Poem title: Fisherman’s Reunion Poet name:Karen Mulhallen Poem Begins: PRODIGAL All over is white snow But you can smell the spring Somatsumaru, its name on launching, Twin Pines, symbol of aged marital harmony. Its secret name was Prodigal, Searcher after Secrets, mysterious wayfarer. Though he was only twenty, perhaps Kou Sasaki knew they would not be together forever; still he waved the ceremonial flag over his new scallop boat, welcoming it to the fleet, setting sail with the others, on the great adventure, from the harbour of the Japanese fishing port of Ofunato. Year after year, they were one, as he searched the sea, married, honed his skills. Then came the earthquake, and the great tsunami, 11 March 2011, a year of disasters, natural and man-made, world-wide, screeches of buildings torn apart, millions of tons of debris filling the Pacific Ocean, 19,000 dead borne along on the tide, including the wife, and young son, of Kou Sasaki, and the small fishing boat, Prodigal, Twin Pines, on a highway of water. Two years pass, and 7000 kilometres, Twin Pines arrives in Klemtu, British Columbia, to a new lifein harmony with the Spirit Bears of the west coast islands, magnificent white bears, paradoxical black bears, unique in the world. Twin Pines, now Japanese Drifter, joins the community of the Spirit Bear Lodge. No longer a fishing boat, now a fisher of souls, taking tourists searching for the Spirit Bear, black bear with white fur, Kermode bear, ghost bear, giver of miracles, Healer. In the big house, Kitasoo dancers greet Kou Sasaki and his new wife Shuko, with ceremonial songs. Seeing Prodigal for the first time in four years, Kou Sasaki shouts, There, Oh There! He jumps into the empty boat weeping. Thanking the Kitasoo people of Klemtu for saving his boat, welcoming him, he gives them Twin Pines ceremonial flag. The Kitasoo take Kou and Shuko in search of the Spirit Bear. On each side of the boat, swimming, guiding them toward an inlet rich in herring eggs is a marine wolf. They round a corner of an inlet, toward the mouth of a fresh water creek— a large white bear, and two newborn black cubs, are fishing for spawning salmon near the edge of the sea. Kou Sasaki and Shuko, and Yoshi Karasawa their sponsor from Vancouver, stand in the community’s gathering place, thanking their hosts for their dances and songs, singing a soft song of renewal: All over it is white, But you can smell the spring. End of poem. Credits: Copyright © Karen Mulhallen Karen Mulhallen has published 17 books of poetry. Her new collection of fifteen elegies will be published in the UK by the Black Spring Publishing Group in 2021. The group of elegies was short-listed for the 2019 International Beverly Prize for Literature. All of these elegies which exam contemporary tragedies and heroism are based on news stories. In working between poetry and prose in these documentary elegies I am asking whether the traditional elegy with its dignity and sonority can encompass the scale of contemporary disasters.