Rod and reel against the railing, floater in the dark. Three a.m. on
the river is coolish and in the black sky, stars glisten, undiluted,
looking like diamonds, looking like ice, looking like fire. The
docklight shines into the water and bluefish pop and snap, darting
from the inky verges into the light, all kamikaze fins, flashing
tails and sawblade teeth. They'll take a finger off given half a
Before the light fades the sky, before the noise of life dims the
stars, when Venus becomes the brightest thing in the sky, I welcome
the morning star, light-bringer. The waves lap against the dock,
scraping the pilings, scenting the air with creosote and shellfish.
In the night, a porpoise sounds. Ka-shoosh. Ka-shoosh. And somewhere
in the miles of marsh, a heron screams. I'm not supposed to be here.
I stare into the water listening for the sputtering cough of his
Evinrude. Beneath the light, gnats swarm. That's what draws the
shiners and the shiners draw the bluefish. You can buy the
fingerlings pickled in baby food jars at the bait shop, tiny fishes,
translucent with a stripe of starlight down the middle.
His bateau sidles up to the dock and he throws me a line. The light
bounces off the water and lights his mismatched eyes, his bright
aspect, his laughing, badass way. I think he smudged his thumb
against the charcoal of the night, smearing the Milky Way just so.
We sit, side-by-side smoking a joint. He takes a hit before placing
his lips on mine and exhaling the smoke into me. My eyes are closed
like it's a real kiss and this is one way I can take him inside me,
owning him like a lady owns a tiger.
He stands, watching the vicious, darting bluefish, snapping the
shiners out of life, then slapping their shining bodies on the
water. Tinkers with the rod. Tinkers with the reel. I remember all
the bluefish I've caught, their bodies seductively supple--their
razor mouths hungry for fingers and pretty things. The dawn star
shines down on his head. He is bright above and below, dangerous,
forbidden and everything I desire. And I'm a fragile little fish
with a piece of night sky decorating my belly, begging bad monsters
to eat me in the light.