Escaping the hook

I’m looking forward to an upcoming post-Christmas family reunion. Here is one of my favorite poems from Potato Eaters, my first chapbook from Finishing Line Press. The photo, too, is one of my favorites, found in an attic box years ago. That’s my mother, on the right, and two of her brothers on the left.

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Fishing with My Brother

My brother, who is prone to nosebleeds
hasn’t the efficiency to heal wounds;
on his left arm burn marks permanently
blister. His chin bears the scar of the second
fall on the steep hill below the house.

You can’t get any better than that
he says, pushing the fishing line
into my face. Of all the fish ever
to swim in this pond or that, this
one decides to end life on a hook,
its flesh torn and gaping. We
could take a lesson, learn when to give
up, when to know enough is enough.

dana-john-ferne-swingsetHe throws the fish back. How did he become
so elemental? How did he know
the average heart cannot drown
itself too deep, forgetting its purpose?
I want to tell him walk a bit with me
and we’ll cry to the birds who nest by us
in the fairy tale. He’ll listen, I hope.
I can’t wait to see him plant fields, discover
electricity, and cut a strong path
through jungles. But there will be time for that.
Nine times out of ten, it is speed
that breaks us; we grow too fast
trying to fly, or escape the hook.

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