On Paul Signac’s
The Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix

Signac painted the fishing boats straight on,
Five of them and a little skiff,
prows forward, masts splicing the air,
flags flying in the breeze of a most
temperate day, clouds, but not rain, the rippling
Atlantic waters contained in the bay.

The people, sticks of black behind the boats,
barely visible, but I bet the whole town
turned out for the send-off, at least one child
fished out, gasping, and the priest, rushing
the planks, wings of his stole flapping
behind him, ready to fling holy water aloft.

But the blessing belongs to the artist
who must have sketched the scene from his own boat
further out, the one he sailed from Mediterranean
port to port, all the way to Istanbul.
He painted a thousand dabs of color
he knew the eye would transform into fish for the catch.

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Published in the June 13, 2014 issue: View Contents
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