If I were young my hands would hurt
by dawn from paddling. I would make
the worn smooth oar suddenly crude
by my touch, novice yet strong enough
to send me across the width of the lake.
Instead, these fishing nets I throw,
one here, by the hidden cove, one further,
near a jetty where the tourists swim,
are not my grandfather’s, but my own.
In truth I tend to sit in the evenings
with my friends, sharing wire and thread,
and mend the day’s snags with rice wine.
Of course, I do not survive like this.
These waters gemming the mouth
of our hushed volcano bear few fish.
I know I couldn’t last without selling
hash to the tourists. It’s funny how
often when they wade out to my boat
they ask about my fishing technique,
the way I slap the water with my oar.
I tell them in our culture a hunter must
warn its prey, and I hope as they read
Tolstoy and get stoned in their rooms
they will consider this. Sometimes,
to drive my point home I say it’s like
steam before the lava blows. I say it’s
all primordial, and they pretend to care.
(Words and image by © Chris Bronsk. Old poem + new image. Why not?)