Still sea, stilled in the morning heat,
Limpid sky with nimbus building up
Somewhere between the cardinal directions
And the water, clean as a lens.
I walked slowly through the receding tide
Ahead of you, since we stopped walking
Together a long time ago. Long enough
That now my mind rejoices in the moment.
There it was—a fish with bluish fins
Trapped by a hook and forgotten there
Together with the hook, dying in pain
While the horseshoe crab walked by.
By the time you caught up with me
I saw it was still moving and I saw
The hook in its mouth. The summer
Of separation must have been like my hand
Pulling the hook very gently out
Of the mouth of the fish, you,
Barely convinced to keep it still, so that
I could work out that last twist of wire:
Its mouth open and trusting, its eyes wide,
Understanding my touch and the shape of hook.
I was distanced, focused only on
Seeing the fish back in the deeper water.
You were stunned holding its body
In our daughter’s t-shirt, unknowing,
Unknowable, even as I coaxed it and it
Swam alive, and free, disappearing while
I looked up at the faces of the children,
Trying to explain how it started a second life;
The fish nowhere to be seen, and you:
Left with the hook and the line in your hands.
August 14, 2021
You can learn more about Carmen's collection of poetry here.