On this winter afternoon, the harbor
is a quiet place until the hungry howl
of a stray dog breaks the silence.
               At the end of the wooden pier,
a dry dock crane waits to lift the boat,
stripped of its nets and crab baskets.
Westward is the sea’s rippled surface.
Inside and outside, the cannery rides
               the tides of working people. Across the street,
the paint on buildings fades, doors,
and windows are gone. Now, a mutt strolls
through the twisted stems of weeds
               and the yellow leaves of the Ash.
He turns his nose skyward before entering
the vacant warehouse like a weary vagrant.
As the wind winds through town,
               the metal clasp clanks against the flagpole.
From the echo of creaking cables comes
the present with its sack full of the past.
Behind the statue of the town’s
               first sea captain, a Doberman trotting home
takes its time. When the museum’s clock chimes
the quitting hour, the barge guard locks
the gate of the chain-link fence.
               On its other side, the cannery crews walk
in knee-high boots. They know that the daily catch
is shrinking, but the boats keep docking
and unloading. They are fully aware nothing stops
               the gloomy weather from coming ashore,
or the low chug of a diesel engine heading out.
Nobody knows how work will end,
only that the ocean, wet and cold, sprays
               the pier as night descends like a tired dog.