The Girl Who Collected Fishbones
In late April, the water was still too cold for wading,
so I clung to the edge of Bill Gardener’s Pond,
looking for bones of black crappie and bluegill
caught in brown grass or the winter slivered cattails.
I discovered the local creeks held more promise:
with the tip of my shoes, I nudged aside stones,
and wrestled fish heads and rotting fins from
the shallow pools where locals gutted their catch.
Once, I caught an old fishing hook in the ball
of my finger, rinsed my hand in the water,
and watched the red disappear from my skin.
At home, I lined up my collection on the porch banister,
sure that every ripple spoke through the bones,
that a brook trout would announce that
the water was cold but clear, that the perch
would murmur shallow like a hushed sigh.
Muffled whispers of the water drowned out
the way everyone around me laughed.
When later that summer, thousands of dead carp
floated to the shores of the local reservoir,
their bones sharp, eye sockets empty but staring,
so much that local residents swore they dreamed
of dead fish in their sleep, I wanted to say
See, You Should Have Been Listening.
Editor’s Note: This is a wonderful example of a narrative poem. Note the balanced line lengths and the closure at the end of the poem.