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Elizabeth Bishop

Worcester, Massachusetts
Elizabeth Bishop
Worcester, Massachusetts
Friday, January 3, 2003

The Fish

Rating: 3.5
I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
- the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly-
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
- It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
- if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels- until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.
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COMMENTS
Canteloupe Matthew 03 December 2020
I love the fish! graceful creature. meatball
0 0 Reply
OHfjwpf 17 November 2020
this man why do I have to read this?
0 0 Reply
elizabETTHHHH 11 September 2020
THIS IS DUMB WHY AM I HAVIUNG TIO READ THIS UDMB DUMB DUMB FISHHHH
1 1 Reply
Masefield.Susan 23 April 2020
4677 Whitney Ct
0 0 Reply
Spenser.Hebe 17 April 2020
4093 W Dawson Ave
1 0 Reply
Elizabeth Bishop 24 March 2020
Who wrote this? Who was it! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
0 1 Reply
gordon ramsey 18 February 2020
this poem is literally about some chick catching a fish and releasing it. tf
3 2 Reply
lexie 16 January 2020
lots of detail about the fish.
6 1 Reply
mr. meme big boy 10 January 2020
why am i reading this smh -_-
2 3 Reply
Maria 05 December 2019
Such vivid explanations are entertaining to read.
3 1 Reply

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