“Fishing at Hermosa Pier” by R.G. Cantalupo

R.G. Cantalupo


Sam says he comes to get away from
the missus, a few hours gazing into
the sea’s gold scales and he’s gone, not
even her all-night binges can pull him
back for a week or two. José brings his
whole family and tells me, in Spanish,
they can smell El Salvador in the blue
salt wind. Alma, his esposa, who “don like
the fish,” hands out burritos and café,
and later, las dulces made from cactus.
Pedro, his oldest, learns how to set an
anchovy head on a hook. I come alone,
bring my long pole and a unfinished song,
leave the books behind. Enough to read
the wind on the sea the way Aunt Elsie
read my palm when I was a boy. Words
don’t tell much anyway. To know the bones
of a thing you have to go down deep, down
to where the seagrass roots and even debris—
a coke can, a boot, a purse—can be a crab’s
nest or a trap. You have to love going home
with your burlap empty, clouds no longer
clouds but white lilies bobbing in the sky,
the music inside the words sounding
thru you head. I open my palms. Catch
whatever I can. Whistle to lure my song.

from Rattle #11, Summer 1999


R.G. Cantalupo: “I’m a full-time writer these days. I seem to have more desire now than ever, and am getting younger every day.”

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