If I were young, my hands would hurt
by dawn from paddling. I would make
the worn smooth oar so 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, share wire and thread,
mend the day’s snags with rice wine.
Of course, I do not survive like this.
These waters, gemming the hushed
mouth of our island’s volcano,
bear few fish. I wouldn’t last without
selling hash to the tourists, or the magic
mushrooms my son gathers in a basket.
It’s funny how as they wade out to my boat
the tourists often ask about my fishing
technique, the way I slap the water with
my oar. I tell them our culture teaches
that a hunter must warn its prey. I hope
as they read Tolstoy and get stoned
on their guesthouse roofs, they will
consider this. To drive my point home,
I say it’s like steam from a volcano
before the lava blows, I say it’s all
primordial, and they pretend to care.
—from Rattle #27, Summer 2007