She Who Carries the Water
CARRIES THE FISH
BY FRED DALE
Through the hands and the gut, the sunken child
tells you what kind of fish she'll be.
Only this one snaps the line as she comes into view,
a miscarried shape that speaks your name.
When the cork remains on the surface, moving
away, you realize it's a finger pointing
to the fish below, and you tell him this is the fish
you need, a sister.
So, the father hauls the anchor, releases the boat.
Carried by water, their minds drift (don't ask why)
to the mother,
the dead child induced from her,
the stolen possibilities of the little one the doctors
brought to the surface,
the gutting of the mother
who tried again, regardless, and won another son,
knowing, she who carries the water, carries the fish.
The boy listens as the boat goes the way
of the fish, and the father, years later on a trail,
tells him, he wept buckets—that pain, like water,
finds its way into us--
that people are a kind of water.
But before taking any of this for a walk, the boy's
reached the bobber,
too dumb to discern the cork will slide free,
that the fishing line will stay where it is,
with the gliding fish.
Fred Dale is a husband to his wife, Valerie, and a father to his occasionally good dog, Earl. He is a senior instructor in the English Department at the University of North Florida. He earned his MFA at the University of Tampa, but mostly, he just grades papers. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Sugar House Review, The Summerset Review, Crack the Spine, Chiron Review, The Evansville Review and others.