Night Fishing

by Leah Dunham

The thin mass of the line
casting out, caught, reeled in hard
has me thinking sliced,
a mask of blood pulsing
onto my cut palm, but it’s a trick.

I can feel the trough pressing back up
until there is no more hollow.

Then waiting.
There is only weight to go on, not the line moving.
The bite is real, but then repeated illusion,
the way I sense the dock
moving on the lake
long after I reach land.

Eventually, the faint gleam when the little
ones pull, their lips stretched.
We throw them back and have to believe
the scales will grow again.

Everything is one of our stories.
If I keep remembering them,
then you still get to be part of the days
that keep coming one
after the other.

Then the water is just my body,
just the way I move over it,
a feeling
as muted as the air.

LEAH DUNHAM received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine, and currently resides in her home state of North Carolina, where she works for an international health nonprofit. Her work appears in Cimarron Review, Blackbird, and The Greensboro Review.