A journal of narrative writing.
Catfish on the Maumee

“And catfish twist through the bones Of what never bothered to rise.” from “I. The Ohio,” Joe Bolton Your body is wrapped in his barbels, drug across the muddy floor away from the asthmatic blue sky inhaler, pulled by the colossal fish through a cloud of exploding dirt poof you are sunk by a last drink of the river. You are pulled far enough each rescue spills through my hands like water How long will I chase the bottom? We can’t know the view from there until we are stupid or unlucky or just too old and tired. Then an absence of gills won’t matter I laugh at the fish as my bare toes cut the surface current, because fish are stupid enough they eventually wear down out of hunger, curiosity, or pure stumbling in the dark; eventually, they nibble at anything in their way, even toes. This is some kind of revenge, Sport, echoes the absent bank as I jerk the line to paralyze his fight. I drag him up awed lips to choke on the burdens of breathing his whiskers taste buds sensing death like defiant tongues, stuck out as if to say, We took your father for this. I cower on the rock, crawl up to see an empty swing swinging, kick-started by the wind, and each second ticks off its pendulum: I wake to the forest’s requiem: the coyote eating chickens from the neighbor’s coop; naturally, howling.

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