In the Morning, After a Miraculous Discovery

by Gabrielle Tribou

In the empty early-dawn,
the line tightens with its first bite,
grows tighter, and then loosens,
and is loose again. “I like it best 
before the light switches on,” J. says,
and you look up at the gray sky, 
pixelated and grainy. Around you, 
the water, the blackened blue-yellow
of the near-dock, is only black now.
Later, when it’s lighter, 
and you tug and tug and pull 
your first fish into the boat,
J. says, “Ladyfish,” 
and then, “Throw it back.”
And when you ask why, he laughs, 
says, “Because when you catch them, 
all they do is bleed and piss.”
The small thing squirms, 
wide-eyed, in your hands, 
its silver scales catching 
and throwing light inside the boat, 
and out, even, against the sky 
and ocean. After thinking, first, 
of last night, of the stick you placed 
on the bathroom windowsill, 
the knowing ache in your breasts,
you think back to a time 
in elementary school, 
at recess, when you scraped your knee 
but kept playing. And then, 
later, in line to go back inside, 
how you saw your friend’s new skirt,
a peony of blood against the white. 
You never apologized, and instead 
watched her from a distance, waiting 
for someone else to notice. 
In the bay, you slip the hook 
from the fish’s mouth, reach, 
and hold it beneath the water. 
It seizes now, desperate, scared, 
and when you open your hands, 
its light twists out into the blue, 
and then it’s gone.