Thursday, January 2, 2014

I Caught A Shark

It was late in October and
I was vacationing
down the Jersey Shore
when I found myself driving
to one of my favorite
fishing spots at the far end
of the Long Port pier

I had gone on impluse
having poorly
planned the day
and I did not have any
bait for my hook
and all of the local
bait and tackle shops
had already closed
for the season

There were
other fishermen
on the pier
already at work
trying their luck
so I thought
I would ask them
to share their bait
with one of their own

No such luck
they said as
they all jealously guarded
their individual stash while
laughing at me for thinking
I could go fishing with no bait

I said that Jesus
would provide me with bait
(after all he had a fondness for
men who fished the seas
or so I have been told)

The day wore on
and I fished with an empty hook
yet not even a nibble
(well what did you expect
mocked my fellow
fishermen apostles)
when suddenly
the Chinese man
next to me
pulled up a
baby sand shark
(not much of a catch
to men who
were intent on catching
a more edible fish)
Throw him back
they warned
before he takes a finger

I had a better idea
Why not cut up the
shark for bait
and we could all share
the spoils
a suggestion that was
quickly approved by the others
and I was given the honor
of doing the deed
for us all

I picked up my
trusty gutting knife and
turned the shark
belly side up
ready to
slice him open
like Abraham
something bigger than me
stayed my hand

As I craddled the shark's
perfectly evolved body
I could sense
his life force
even through my
wet frozen fingers
and I could feel
his perfectly toned muscles
as he wriggled and struggled
to save his own life

My fellow fishermen apostles
incredulously watched as
I suddenly
tossed the squirming
baby shark
back into the sea
where he swam away
with renewed vigor

Why'd you do that
the others asked
You're the one
who wanted him for bait

I just shrugged
my shoulders
too embarrassed to say
that I was still able
to feel the shark's
beating heart
even through
the frost bitten
numbness of my
cold dead hands

Philadelhia, Pa. 2013