The air reeks of fish and blood,
and I have never seen your eyes look so wide
as you tell of the months and years you worked
for the cash to buy this little blue boat.
I watch you toss money into the ocean
in the form of brown-pink worms
and translucent gray shrimp you bought from Big Dave,
who gave you the morning special this afternoon
because he liked your truck.
I ask, with a scowl, why you cast away the cash
you need for school and gas and books,
All for fish food?
You smile, tap white painted wood
with a hand calloused from lines,
from reels and ropes and hooks and scales and sails
I feel your ragged palm with one finger,
ask why don’t you exfoliate,
moisturize for once?
The black-blue glare off your sunglasses
makes the backs of my eyes ache
as I watch you watching the waves
I ask, why do you waste your time,
waiting for something you don’t even know
You don’t have an answer.
I slouch in the bottom of the boat and
let the loud rush of water hush me
and fill my ears.
I lean against curved wood,
hard on the skin of my sun-blistered back,
Squint to see you sitting more still
and patient than I ever thought you could be-
there’s a reason they called you “the oaf”, after all-
but you handle this boat like a favorite old horse.
Here, on your face, I see
as you wait,
a peace that I’ve wanted for you.
The air reeks of fish
…or maybe it’s just salt?
A refreshing sea breeze?
So many questions I have for you-
your friends pour their cash into beer
and pour beer into mouths and toilet bowls
your hands are right the way they are
for grasping the things you want to hold
as much as I hate that camo watch,
I suspect this is not wasted time.
I don’t even know what you’re looking for
where gooey horizon melts into sea,
And it’s true,
sometimes you catch nothing.
but you always seem to return
with whatever you were fishing for.
Jessie is a Creative Writing student at Reinhardt University. Her work has appeared in Copia, Sanctuary, and the Georgia Historical Quarterly, as well as onstage in Waleska’s third annual 24-hr Play Festival. She is currently on the editing staff of the James Dickey Review and runs StreetSigns, a faith-based blog.