Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Croaker Bucket

Academic journal article Southern Quarterly

Croaker Bucket

Article excerpt

i.m. Brook Eley

I was out on the Marina pier, watermen tying up.

A bucket of croakers appeared suddenly

at my feet, silver siders, one or two

smaller with the black spot behind gills.

Sun glinted from the scales. Then a hand

blood-spotted, more scales, gold ring, followed

the fish, at last the face, mouth hooked wide,

staring up at my face, a boy's leaning down

to see what a croaker is. Jet fighters

from Langely AFB roared over, erasing words.

His lips gulped air, gulls screamed, fish groaned

in silence, and I saw him point to another man,

body leaned on upright tiller stick and gunnel,

its white dark with blood's years, his

gray-whiskered head bobbing in passage

where incomers and outgoers traveled through

the dark hall of slips. "My brother," mouthed

the waterman, and declared something I am never

going to understand as he climbed and sat. …

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