Fishing At Mill Dam, Hanover IL

Olive dark, its deep-inked lines stone slates,
knit like a well-made roof, from feathered gills
down the carp’s length, to the hem of its tail.

A dragon’s muscled back rolls thick-skinned,
and is swallowed, hard, by the river’s mirrored top.
But sourdough on a hook will bring the fish in.

Odd how the colour dies when the scales are gone:
drab flesh as common as an old woman’s hue.
No cause for admiring when the cleaning is done.

And so, the weight is rolled in newsprint.
Not the fish I had seen in the dam’s shadow,
I keep fishing, and waiting for the line to move:

a thick quivering green in the shallows,
a pulse in this river where I have grown.


Copyright © 2004 Linda Schaible

Bain-Swiggett Poetry Prize, University of Tennessee



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