A fisher-boy's life - part five

A fisher-boy’s life (part five)

Old Abingdon School is now my home,
prefects and masters and neat, bare dorm
unbending rules, grey granite stone;
you’re clever? then sit at front of the form,
at the back if you are a dreamer like me
dreaming of birds eggs and fishing the sea
or that wierpool, a Thames tributary
with shiny new reel and split cane rod
twelfth birthday present from grandpa -
‘Islip, pay attention!’ My master speaks;
(small interest then in Latin and Greek.)
Where the pools are bright and deep
Where the grey trout lies asleep
Up the river and over the lea
That’s the way for Billy and me
 (James Hogg, 1770-1835: A Boy’s Song)
Where the pool lies, bubbling clear
where green weed grows down the weir
By the Thames and over the lea
that’s the way for Harris and me -
(only surnames at Abingdon School -
did my fisher friend have a forename?)

Our free time, we go with our tackle
free as the stream from Abingdon’s shackle
to snag with bare hook some whispy weed
- with tiny mites on which fishes feed -
whilst crouched behind the fringing reed
then holding breath await the bite, oh!
how those chub would fight and fight!
and once a handsome two pound roach
I caught; and I can see those fins cerise
and flank, as bright as a sixpenny piece
on green green grass where she lay that day;
and I can feel the hunter-gatherer’s joy,
a golden moment for a motherless boy.

‘So, to be or not to be, then’, joked Harris
‘You could have it stuffed, Islip, you know
or perhaps you might simply let the fish go.’
I kissed her, my lips to her slippery nose,
and still hear the drone of that long gone May
and catch the scent of the wild that arose
as I watched my love swim slowly away.

Bryan Islip
Part five of  ‘A fisher-boy’s life’ : 1st June 2014

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