Fishing provides that connection
with the whole living world.
The buoys hang wet between small crosses
Of clotheslines in a stubborn lean;
The creak of wood on wood and bolts pitted with rust,
The nets slump in exhaustion
Like hammocks and drag their toes.
In bare light, I peer through bleary wooden panes
As Larry unloads his night’s toil;
Some pilchards, salmon, a few yellow-fin bream,
Boxed in by handfuls of ice,
Leeching swirls of blood and coagulant.
He’s tired; his arms licked with salt
And heavier from the spray,
His body incised by three hernias—last year’s Jewfish
That hooked him to a bed for weeks.
Now, the fish boxes are half full
And leave pockets of air between each stack
In the chest freezer. I visited that evening;
His arms in electric hum—bottlebrushes of fibreglass
Sanding an upturned hull.
He’d murmur old stories like photographs
Of my grandfather; beach fires, jacket potatoes,
Al’ foil wrapped fish and the town
Before the servo re-dressed as a bed and breakfast.
Tar had brought Sydney-siders
Down for summer and he’d ask how father
Took the loss—how lung cancer trawls the body.
I’d mumble a nod, fixed on the roll of hands
Over ribbed body, drawn to the fountain fall of fibres
And the closeness of the fibro hut.
The wind drew in the night
Like the turn of venetian dowel;
Old nets bundled in the outhouse,
The smell of morning—a memory soaked in the grass,
Two gulls skittered along a galvanised gutter
And I caught glints in the tidemarks of his eyes.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones