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knees on the rolling gunnels.

   knees on the roiling gunnels
   we lean out drawing the trap up slowly
   hand over hand, lifting a thousand
   fish in a tightening house.

   something boiling begins to emerge,
   one, two tails turn
   swelling the surface, then
   long backs braiding smoothly rise
   clear to the light as we claw more and more
   of their mesh walls away from them.

   Cyril is dancing, already guessing
   how many thousand pounds as he jabs
   the dip net among them yanking
   thudding their slippery bodies into the skiff
   he digs wildly ripping the air through his
   teeth, making a rainbow of fish
   white bellies, eyes, mouths
   wide with amazement going by in a blur, he
   works like a man in a fairy tale
   who is shown a mountain of gold
   and told he can keep whatever he digs in a day.

from The Grey Islands (McClelland & Stewart, 1985; Brick Books 2000) reprinted by permission of Brick Books

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Author:Steffler, John
Publication:ARC Poetry Magazine
Article Type:Poem
Date:Dec 22, 2012
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