Sue Whitmore

Fishing - islands in the Adriatic

"dugdugdugdugdugdugdugdugdugdugdugdugdug" -
the little fishing boat bangs its way
through the oil dark sea;

When it stops an immense silence opens; anchors claw the rocks and hold -
the star cloth overhead is hazy and diffused.

Distant trawlers, their lights blazing industrially
scoop the Adriatic for the 'blue fish'
small metal shirun with huge black eyes.

Denni whirs leaded lines round and round his head
releasing them into long darkness, one line, one fish.

We all have lines out
but I have no patience, no faith
I pull too soon, fuss too much

Have I baited the wrong hook,
is my line in the wrong place?
This time-stretching waiting is terrible.

Then, line and finger poised, there is something -
something . . . nibbling . . . .almost imperceptibly -
like a distant voice on the phone,

Careful or it may come to nothing -
yes, the line has gone dead -
"The hook was too big for the fish".

Says it all, really, better small fish
than the absent, abstract big ones I aspire to.
Damn my limitations.

Then some catches: a small spiny red dragon of a fish
that fights dying and dies fighting;
'cantors' and 'friars' that sleep on the line.

Denni, a mathematician,
counterbalances the pursuit of absolutes
with the abstractions of dark water.

He substitutes small metal hooks and gasping red gills
for theorems drawn on lines of reason,
from hazy constellations of number and symbol.

I go fishing for experience -
which unrecorded is like drawing in an empty line;
But I want it safe - in a keep net;

I can't take this much barbed reality -
"You should see how much blood there is
with fresh water fish";

The fish in the bottom of the boat
gives in to death
just as I gave in to birth.

There - a word, a phrase -
another catch on a line cast into the long darkness -
another catch for my own cruel connections.