It is just a detail.
A small part of the painting.
Two men rowing their boats in the harbor,
surrounded by tall ships.
Frigates to be exact.
But it is the details that draw your eye.
Two small dinghies. An exchange of goods
on a human scale.
This is what makes it all work.
Each with a name, a family
and a story,
too often lost, because they are not
enough, deemed replaceable
until we use up a few too many
and the tide turns,
and the ships set out to sea,
perfectly set up
About this poem
The painting is Called “Frigates”. It is by a dutch painter, Johan Barthold Jongkind.
It hangs at the Clark Museum and I always stop to look at it when we go. And it is always the detail of the men in their rowboats that draws my eye.
If this poem is too political, just pretend that it is about sailors. You know me, poems cease to have my meaning the moment I publish them. They become yours.