The Fisherman

  • The fisherman throws his nets. At night, when he eats, he sits alone. His plate round as the moon. He lights one candle on his table. He cuts the fish with his fork and his knife, peeling back its skin like a bed sheet. Most mornings he wakes before the sun. For the fish, they don't sleep long. On some nights--when he's been drinking heavily--he goes down to the rocks and he reads to the fish. 
  • He reads to them poems, poems from books. Poems about the human condition, about the muscles inside of him. That question and quiver and shiver in sleep. Bottle in one hand, book in the other. Books clutching poems like they were their mother. Too afraid to let their children out into the soft fear of the electric night, and he was the wild one to show them this world.
  • His mother will never hold him like that again, he thinks. I'm too big. Book in one hand, bottle in the other. While the storms flock behind him like gathering ballooning corpses. He screams these poems, screaming out the words. Like they were teeth he no longer needed or cared for. He slurs his screams like a drunk preacher cutting a rope. Picking up poems like they were stones to fling at the foot of God's throne
    Hurling word, after word, after word. Waiting for some door in some black cloud, but nothing happens.
  • The rain falls, the waves swing, and the fish sleep. And awake, and sleep, and awake, and again and again
    In the rocking of the ocean. He stands above them like a Noah surrounded by bucket after overflowing bucket. And all he has left to catch this wet lightning is this open mouth. So he reads to them.

  • He reads to them about things that none of them will ever see. About flowers opening. About birds as large as cliffs, holding heroes between their silver wings. Carrying these warriors into the open grace of the gods. And a mighty providence this fisherman stands inside of. Their shields and shoulders polished hard enough to blind the sun right back.
  • He empties himself and the waves swing. He goes home, falls into bed, sleeps all the next day. Night comes through his window like a dream, like a fever. Like a mother to hold him close to her. He wakes inside of her arms, goes to his kitchen. Lights his candle, cooks his audience. And peels back its skin like a bed sheet before crawling inside.