Night Fishing

by Daniel Hoffman

You stir, or is it the first birds
Straining to open the darkness with their tongues?
You stir, you pass your arm behind my head
And we move closer, our hands find one another
As bodies slip together and thighs part-
In the dory I bend, bend to the oars
Exultantly, bend back and the boat glides
With its wake widening behind you, and the swirled pool
The oars leave as we slash through the bold water
Where the Head of the Cape juts toward the sea.
There you cast your line its shining lure
Arches, then trolls from the rod held in your hands
Till there's a strike the rod bends,
You whirl the reel as the caught fish darts and turns,
Rushes the keel and the line goes slack a moment,
Then, a slash of whiteness under the gunnels
-I've shipped oars and reach for the whipping line,
At last haul out of the froth a tinker mackerel
Flashing in the fading light all sleek
Stripes and slippery frenzy - I work the hook
Out of his gaping jaw and in the bucket
Plop him with the others. Grate of shingle
Under bow, we've hauled the boat up, gathered
Driftwood sticks. In the rocky cleft our fire
Glows and our green withes of new-cut alders
Spear the cleaned meat. The sizzling drips,
Drips on the embers. On a rock of snails
We feed each other flesh with the sweet tang
Of the sea, and the fire, and salt, as the tide breathes
Its long slow breaths along the shore.
We rinse our hands and faces in a pool,
The rumpled water stills, we see ourselves
Gaze back at us among the floating stars.

Last updated April 25, 2023