There is a waiting . . .

. . . that greets each visitor. A grey clapboard shack-of-a-building at the wharf’s edge. Ferries dock nearby. Disgorge day-trippers to this Cape Cod town. Three rusted, but still operational fishing boats, are moored nearby. A far cry from the fleets tethered to a myriad of docks, back in the fishing and whaling heydays here in Provincetown.

Larger-than-life black and white portraits of Portuguese women are affixed to the shack. They Also Faced the Sea is an art installation, a tribute to the patience and suffering of those who waited. They had no way of knowing when their men would return, until the sailing ships reappeared on the horizon. They waited for their husbands, brothers, and sons. Coastal storms battered their simple homes. Kettles filled with hearty stew simmered as families prayed, then ate at roughhewn tables. One empty chair often haunted their meals. Thunder would roll in and they would silently worry. Was he battling this storm? Would the mast hold . . . or would he be swallowed by a churning sea?

Portraits on a wooden edifice. Reminders of those who still wait . . . still pray.

autumn breeze cools shore
gulls wait, savor shift in wind
as clams, crabs, float in


It’s Poetics Tuesday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today, Sarah asks us to write about “waiting” — I’ve chosen to do so in a haibun (three succinct paragraphs of prose – cannot be fiction – followed by a traditional haiku).

We are in our last few days of our annual two-week visit to Provincetown. I took this photo on our trip into Provincetown and we’ll see this wonderful art installation again as we leave on the ferry back to Boston on Saturday. This is at MacMillan Pier – photographs by Norma Holt and art installation by Ewa Nogiec. It has watched over the Fisherman’s Wharf portion of the pier for the past 10 years. 

14 thoughts on “There is a waiting . . .

  1. kanzensakura September 17, 2019 / 11:25 am

    Thank you for the photo of the art installation. The activities director of the skilled nursing facility was the wife of a lobsterman who didn’t return home from the fishing trip. And years ago i cooked in a small restaurant in PTown for a summer. I remember the women who waited for their men. This is an excellent haibun, giving the sense of waiting, of making do until the money arrived from the fish.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kim881 September 17, 2019 / 3:26 pm

    A wonderful haibun, Lill! You’ve captured the feeling of waiting at the docks and the essence of the art installation (the image gives me a good idea of what it must be like in real life) as well as the tragic story behind it. The gentle haiku is like a reassuring stroke on my cheek.


  3. Frank Hubeny September 17, 2019 / 3:28 pm

    I like your description of a situation where there is nothing one can do but wait and pray.


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) September 17, 2019 / 3:31 pm

    The fisherman’s wife waiting… so well known from every fishing village… many times he came home at last… except that final time.


  5. Laura Bloomsbury September 17, 2019 / 3:41 pm

    Poignant indeed is this waiting – it reminds me somewhat of Kipling’s “The Harp Song of the Dane Women”


  6. msjadeli September 17, 2019 / 4:34 pm

    The character shows in their faces. Beautiful writing, Lillian.


  7. Glenn A. Buttkus September 17, 2019 / 5:02 pm

    Exquisite word-smithing, resonating for all the wives that waited for whalers, soldiers, and traveling salesmen. Less now than then. Most wives work as well, and waiting is punctuated with making a living.


  8. Linda Lee Lyberg September 17, 2019 / 5:36 pm

    Such a beautiful Haibun Lillian. For all the women who wait…


  9. Vivian Zems September 17, 2019 / 6:29 pm

    A beautifully-rendered piece of history here. Not only am I entertained, but also more educated.
    That interminable wait for the families is better imagined. Great writing!


  10. Misky September 18, 2019 / 7:30 am

    Absolutely gorgeous.


  11. rivrvlogr September 18, 2019 / 10:11 am

    Men whose hearts were at sea, and the women whose hearts went with them – this is a nice reminder of the forgotten side of what likely was a wrenching experience.


  12. Rob Kistner September 18, 2019 / 11:43 am

    This was well written Lillian. A fascinating form of waiting. Those returning from th sea,


  13. mhmp77 September 18, 2019 / 8:22 pm


    Thunder would roll in and they would silently worry.
    Was he battling this storm? Would the mast hold . . .
    or would he be swallowed by a churning sea?

    This must be the underlying worry all the time by the loving wives. To think that in reality some may be the unfortunate ‘victims’ will always put them in a stressful mode. Beautiful haibun Lillian!



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