A fisher-boy's life - part three

A fisher-boy’s life (part three)

There is in Wales a place called Laugharne
(say it like larn as in barn like the boathouse
for there lived Dylan Thomas, once), whence
I was sent to holiday in forty four
with my married cousin and my ‘uncle’).
I helped fetch water from the village pump
later stood by the muddy shore, gazing
over a vast estuary of river, mother sea
first knowing a small boy’s salt affinity,
rushed ‘home’ to steal a fishing hook
(one of uncle’s brightest sea-trout flies)
and a ball of twine from down in the shed
and with jam jar of garden worms ran
back again to bait, stone-weight my line,
throw to the brackish tide, far as I could:
what would my writhing worm then bring?
Waiting in slow rain with bated breath,
alive, imagining, always imagining
a fish, a catch, a game of life and death
And so it was, first fishing time alone.
I felt that twitch, a drag, a steady pull
strong enough to move my weight, then
line cutting drum-tight to and fro; but
I was not going to let my captive go.

What kind of flatfish, this, my prize?
mud-brown on top, (the side of its eyes),
cream-dirty white below, fan tail flipping,
edge fins waving, pale gills pulsating;
beautiful, though, in a special kind of way
and still I feel its thrilling, slimy cold
in my hands, this slippery muscled
solid fish of toasty tea plate type and size
and still I see its look of mild surprise
and still I smell that same sour fishy scent
as, fast as I could run, back home I went.
‘What’s that?’ my cousin Eileen said.
‘It stinks the place. What kind of fish is that?'
‘A flounder,’ uncle said, ‘Well done, my son’.
 ‘Close the door,’ she said, ‘It's for the cat.
Whatever from you next, you are a one.’
Thus my pride sinks flatter than that flat.

Bryan Islip
Part three of  ‘A fisher-boy’s life’ : May 2014

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