Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poetry: Poking the Dead

As for yesterday's poem, I found inspiration for today's poem from an old photograph. The picture below, which I've shared on here before in an earlier post, is of me and my father. I think I'm holding up the fish by myself; my father just wants me in the picture to document how big the fish is. Looking at that picture again got me to thinking of summers in my grandparents' backyard where he and my grandfather would fillet dozens and dozens of fish they caught the same day out on my grandfather's boat. The memories are full of strong images and stir up a lot of warm fuzzy nostalgia despite the gruesome subject. I'm looking forward to expanding and revising this one in the future, but, for now, it's poem # 9 for the poetry pledge drive.

Poking the Dead

They would catch them by the barrelful and bring them home,
Cut them up in the backyard on big stained boards. I would
Nose around the reeking buckets, watch the lips
Moving breathlessly. I'd run

My fingers with and against the grain
Of the scales, then marvel at the discarded
Guts glimmering in the sun. I'd muster the courage
To poke at the dead

Eyes, trying to figure out how
The translucent lids worked, unblinking
When the flies landed.

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