Eager to make a catch, any catch he can,
he grips the rod and sets eye on the bobber;
imagining the strike, he wants to reel it in
to see what’s lurking in the water.
The intracoastal avenue is calm
until bridge jaws open to let a tall mast pass;
he loves the clap of wake on concrete wall,
he hates the shrimp blood on his hand. Time
swells, he’s an empty raft, God’s floater.
But then the rod bends, he pulls, reels, electrically alive,
and there’s joy in blood, I smell it in his voice,
the puffer fish ballooning now so fast
it’s like a ball dolphins nip for play, to get a toxin high,
and it blinks, unique in air, common and afraid.
From “The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish” by Joshua Weiner. Copyright The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Joshua Weiner’s most recent book is “The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish.” He lives in Washington, D.C.