Clamming on the Barnegat Bay
Marsh grass swaying to summer’s breeze music,
Wafting smell of sulfur…cattail decay permeates the air,
Skeleton legged egrets skate over muck and mire,
Silently stalking, without trace or print,
Fisher of frog and killie and eel satiate the craw,
Atypical beauties gliding amongst driftwood and jellyfish.
Gulls chatter wakes the quiet of the rustling reeds,
Circling, cawing in haphazard patterns above the sea,
Groupies to fish laden boats anxious for port,
Unafraid…swooping to touch the hand that feeds,
Scraps of innards, heads, tails treats for the monochrome crew,
Relentless in their acrobatic aerial pursuit.
Sullen skies harvest chilly rains, whipping winds churn the bay to froth,
Whitecaps endlessly roll across turbulent waters,
Crashing to port and starboard in a symphony of wind-swept spray,
Biting hardened faces, skin soaked..raw with each pull of the rake and tong,
Muscle aches, such minute reward, so honorable the sacrifice,
For bushels of clams…the elusive cherry stone.
Brutality of summer’s heat nor winter’s cold deters,
Boats of wood, chipping and weathered, flat-bottom or “v”,
Designs dreamt in the mind of another century,
Purpose built, purpose born, rugged men, bred for the rigors,
Calloused, barnacle laden, weaned from the land, cast to the sea
Baymen one and all, men to their briny cores.
Bay of cedar and Atlantic salt, treacherous inlet throat,
Darkened by sources of origins mixed,
Nectar of life to fish and fowl, baymen and boater, lovers of marine,
Beauty whilst beast when stoked by storm,
Life giving…treacherous for the ignorant and uninitiated,
Wondrous, mysterious…Barnegat Bay.
~~ D. R. DiFrancesco ~~
* I grew up along the Barnegat Bay, in New Jersey and worked as a commercial clammer for a number of years. This type of work is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly was honest work and taught me the value of persistence. This is an absolutely beautiful area to live in and now that I live in the desert, I realize how much I love and miss the bay and ocean.