Fishing always made me a little uncomfortable. I find the carnage to be corpse blossom; and yet, the food chain has a true beauty all its own. This poem straddles that vibe. Thanks for reading.
There was a swaying aluminum boat, rocked in
rhythm with the breathing Earth. North wind coming
down over white pines like hands, sketched on
glassy lake skin, petting cattails against their grain.
There were bluegill that swallowed hooks at dusk,
arcing pole, wrestling the reaper for a meal. Streaking
just below the surface, I remember how those fins
wimpled with the flow, glinting blades in dying light.
Their angles came slicing out of the chop,
keelhauled like babes from freshwater wombs.
I remember their design in my palms: opalescent
coin scales, rising ribcage, flare of gills.
Something treasured, something of us in them.
On their backs, colors in wormy patterns like maps
of destroyed worlds. Smelling of mossy handfuls;
older than man, whispering mystery behind oil-wet eyes.
At the filet station, how the whetstone would sing
beneath cathedrals of sap and needle, when we offered
them up. We placed knife to neck, beheaded them;
opened bellies and out tumbled wet rubies.
There — amongst mazes of fresh, wild carnage,
hiss of the kerosene lamp like a hymn —
at the end of each fish’s red thread life
was a window opening or closing;
a moment for the soul.
"See Man" by Shredd Spread
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