Poem 20150628

i went fishing one weekend
with my father
and two men
half bothers from a previous marriage
either one old enough to be my father
one had children older than me
but this was trip with only a father
and his sons

the four of us rose early
and the water stank
heavy, wet and thick
everything rotten in the river
rising in a fog

but worse
smelled bait my father swore
stank so bad
that the catfish
disgusting bottom skimming fish
that they were
would smell it
and be drawn to his hook

he had kept it in an
old mayonnaise jar
in his closet
ripening for months
it was pale yellow
like thick spoiled cream cheese
swimming in an oily ocher bath

they like to eat smelly things
he said

i caught a fishhook in the finger
but don’t remember catching any fish

my father and his older boys
talked about tijuana
which was close to where we were fishing
and the mexicans crossing the river in the middle
of the night
and i remember seeing a girl
not much older than me
in a dress printed with red flowers
who looked afraid
but i couldn’t imagine
of what
since i had not learned to be
afraid

and when the trip was over
we took an ice chest full of fish
back to my brother’s house
for his wife to clean
because apparently
that was how it worked