Sunday, October 27, 2013


Hanging Lures
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

and mother taught us the word
viviparous, as we knelt
on the pier at Monterey
a drop line twisted
around driftwood, a lead sinker—
we caught shiners, perch, the word
meant young swam live
from a veined sac slit
cleaning a female

but mostly we pulled out bluefish

mother fished off rocks
with supple bamboo
and humming reel; I stayed
down in the mirrors
of tidepool water; distant

I can still see mother's back
the loud suction
swallowing of the sea, mother
turns, mouthing a warning
across wind, across
pools of sea anemone, sea

she waited to catch ling cod, green
flesh like fruit
and cabezone that ripped air
with its crooked fighter's jaw

oh, she could not get enough
of the sea; even went into it
bringing home three salmon, each
tall as a girl, melon-colored
inside, sweet

the bluefish disappeared
and the otter mother showed us
lying on their backs in kelp
cracking abalone

they say the otter have returned
but I never will

we moved inland, followed
the striped bass, known
to grow huge in the strait—

everyone used the drop line there
crowded together on the long pier
at Carquinez, close but quiet

invisible as possible, the striper
can see you, the slight movement
of your line, so smart

me, somehow, I let down a barb
into the bony ring
finger of my left hand

mother didn't know what to do
had to ask a man, a stranger
to cut it out with his knife

(First pub. in Landing Signals from 
Sacramento Poetry Center, 
and Now that I am in the Light I See 
by Jane Blue, Konocti Books)