The Fishing Pole

by Helen Alston

is attached to the man
who tells us about the black jawed
snapping turtles in the lake.
Don’t touch the bottom,
they’ve taken toes and worse—
we know what worse
is—but in imagining
I jump first, come up
whole but sputtering as you
burn on the dock, watching
the man with the pole
cast and catch a goose
full in the mouth, her tongue
a mess of blood and line that I
am swimming toward, half
blind to the bird’s
wild beak and wings
as the man cuts
the slacked line, already halfway
to his idling truck while the flock
breaks the glassy surface, one
bird twisting her great neck,
the sheer line dragging
in her wake as she takes off.
Her blood is heavy enough
that I can’t see it, that we
don’t talk about it,
and as you jump in
I realize there never were
turtles, that the sound
I am hearing is the truck
clearing the gravelly hill, poles
rattling in its bed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: