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Ode to a Fisherman

Em Fullenwider

Stars not dampened by sunrise float    with crocodiles

       littering the lake’s surface

mouths wide     a yawn holding future

stories     nearly touching the sky

Blacks and purples of galaxies    waiting

for gray blue of morning     I sit on edge

of the boat tossing my bobber

towards the back of their throats      missing

each attempt you stop me     grab the line

say             you’ll scare off the fish beneath them

                                                            Unsteady hands     no longer paint boats

                                               my name

                                                                        you sometimes confuse with

                                                                                   one of my four sisters

                                                                                                         you’d thread the bobber

                              teach us        when to pull and reel     a fish

                                                               I was in art school    you’d watch me paint

                                    green in the eyes of a portrait

The sun came up     and they closed

          their hope filled mouths           Silence

and eyes meeting     nats that like my nose

My bobber has drifted      into a patch

of sun         a piece of the lake transparent

Down there the fish glitter       scales of silver

when caught by the sun      color finds them

then they’re gone       They are not fools

               Doctors took pieces       your hands

                                   Small amounts       skin gone

                                                to testing          You’d lift the wraps      show me

                           exact amounts      skin cancer erodes                    We’d all sit swaying

                     left                                                                                 right

                                         steady you’d stand preaching

                         importance of sunscreen                   Pink skin red

                                              last thing you want on us

                                                     blazing heat                    a Texas summer day

Midday      the crocodiles have gone

down cool corners of the lake

under the shadow        of our small boat

I want to dip my feet moment of safety between

             the fish      and me

Bright white hits the iris     idle lake with no clouds

         Birds take sudden flight

at the crack of your Dr. Pepper can     casting

red between two small trees      a heart

                                                           Your boat     covered in the shed

                                 housing a litter of cats       You were              furious

                                                                                         I told you       my inspection

                                      dust      one melted rubber worm

                                                                  grass should be mowed

                                                                                  violent shake    your hands


                                                                                                  perspiration      on your water glass

                                                damp dark green       on your armrest

                                                                spots on your hands linger

Beating the edge of the boat    a stick

only thing I’ve been able to catch

Reached my hand right     in the cool water

purple found      its way back to the sky

The sun       more forgiving     and you

           place one fish in the cooler

Crocodile eyes ride the surface       glance

our direction       Ripples from blood drops

      fog the surface       Smokey fade

black depths      their world beneath us

Em Fullenwider is a queer poet from Texas who is a current MFA Poetry Candidate at Texas State University. She/They received their BA in Creative Writing from the same university and they are the current art editor for Porter House Review and a poetry reader for Abode Press.

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