Friday, November 17, 2006

Fishing Trip

I’m in the salty bow of the fishing boat
feeling the ocean’s breathing belly
rising – falling –
teasing my writer’s hand

The others have their lines out
passing comments and bait packets across the deck
bright bursts of boyish excitement, mannish laughter

I have my spirit-hook out, too
hoping to catch something in the ocean of silence

A lone seagull has shadowed us from shore
he circles, hovers, screeches encouragement

All of us eventually fall silent
entranced by the mantra of the waves
sea and sky are one vast meditation

Our gull has been joined by a companion
even though we’re a long way from land
they obviously have faith in the generosity of fishermen
who experience the unpredictable generosity of the sea

Everything moves out here – motion
of blood, of breath, of light, of sound -
even when I make myself sit absolutely still
I bob like a cork, chest rises and falls
my hair snaps like prayer flags in the breeze

Islands of light and shadow move along the coast
and across the water toward, over us
cloud sculptures shape-shift fantasies from zenith to horizon
the companioning wind sings about the mast-head
and against my chilled eardrums

At every point of the compass the sea is a palette
silver, green, black, deep blue, grey, lemon…

I’m content being the scribe today
with my paper net and ink-tipped barb
why should I fish when I don’t need them?
let them enjoy this day of freedom
nobody’s catching much, anyway, and I’m glad
though I wouldn’t tell them that

B caught one a while back, and dropped it
in a plastic box by the wheelhouse
I could hear it flapping in little, urgent bursts, for ages
maybe it was just auto-reflex
but it sounded like slow death to me
fishermen would probably shrug that off

I hinted to J that actually I’m a closet Buddhist
and that the fishing would be better if I wasn’t here
putting out fish-compassionate energy
again, I wouldn’t tell them that
my name’s not Jonah.


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