Fish Out of Water

“You have made men like fish in the sea…The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks…”
—Habakkuk 1:14,15

In sleep, I fear water’s weight pressed down, drowning me
each time the air seeps out. How stunning, the stab
of throat accustomed to the lightness of air, darkness of water.
Down dream’s womb, panic to plunge back, shock of air,
rebirth, exquisite death of consciousness, knowing darkness,
myself, a harbored shadow thrown against the wall.

What remains shaded but the drowning truth of light?

Hardened hands in earth at 5 a.m. rout out the fatted meat
of dirt passed through flesh, worms in black soil.
Softened by their deliberate work—taking in filth to attain purity—
these bodies baited, opened, cast into dark waters;
air leans in, cuts through current, obviates another dying. He clutches
the stringer, stripping basket dressed to receive the feast.

What is fishing to me now—the practice of his hands have threaded
boyhood on hooks—thrusts beneath the water’s surface!

The clustered claustrophobia presses in, tightens, clench of teeth,
tensing up, rigid rigor mortis, tiny death in wakefulness.
His sweat an urgent haste, skin thrusts to satisfy, gratified, I die.
Laden, laid in gravesclothes, I pass from stringer’s chain
to stripping basket, casket stokes the choke of light, weight of sight.
My unlived life a fathomless dream;

seamed by the death I live with him;
worn revelation of shame mourned, torn in water, reborn.

Taking it back one day at a time.