Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Sculpin

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Sculpin

Article excerpt

"Marie, you get to call your teacher Marie?" Dylan the fisherman's boy, incredulous. "Well next year," he says, chewing hard on gum my sons have shared with him, "next year, you know, you'll have to call your teacher Mrs. Something-or-other. Whad'ya have, another stoogie?" The little day-glo rod is parabolic. Nate is excited, this first day fishing, and I say "Knees on the pier, knees on the pier," knowing I wouldn't survive a sudden plunge in the Bay of Fundy. Even if Dylan has been turning his lips blue, diving from pilings on the patronizing dares of smoking youths. Soon I'm handlining up the ugly word, the little curse my boys thrill to bring up over and over from the bitter dark beside the pier. The sculpin fights into the last foot of sunstruck sea, struggles up behind the toothed coils of its craw, flexing greasy pectoral fins, dangerous dorsal spikes, mottled, puffing, outraged. The mainland miles off is baking in the sun, so the wind that comes to us is hot, suddenly cool, then hot again. Dylan has a delicate frame and face, a flute-toned, Welsh-tinged voice. A gold earring glints under his red hair. He and his New Jersey cousin are pleased to demonstrate the gill grip one must use unhooking sculpin. Then they drift off toward the float, somebody's older brother in a skiff. When I've rebaited my sons' lines and advised them toward a fresh spot, there's just time to savor the functional, tangled beauty of spars and nets and winch cables, over where the bright boats disgorge their holds of pollock, hake, and herring. …

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