Grandpa would fish on the
L-shaped jetty at Shark River Inlet,
On the north side where the
Rocks calmed the sea summer nights
As the moon faded out of the
He’d walk the mile of boardwalk
From Ocean Grove in the dusk
With the same chipped rod he’d wrapped
And varnished on the kitchen table,
Clamped to it the one decent piece of gear
He owned, a twenty-year old Meek reel,
With new line each spring and a small bucktail
Lure at the end of the leader, waiting
For the water to clear after a tide-rise
That rolled the water clear from tip
Of the jetty to the north tide-pool where the
Summer flounder feed in the flat sand
Just near the boulders.
He’d cast out from
The breakers and drag the line in staccato
Jerks again and again, saying nothing to
The others except Al who’d not fish but
Come with pipe tobacco and a dry match.
If there was no action in a half-hour or so,
He’d add a piece of pork rind usually
Used for the blues earlier in the season
And swear it’d draw em like laughing gulls
Chatter at the shadow of Venus
Reflected on the sea’s inconstant surface.
Once, in a low tide of spring,
When the foot of the jetty was dry and
Open, he took me walking across the sand
Ripples and troughs where salt water still
Pooled, and showed me spots where,
In such-and-such a year he’d hooked
A flounder, always remembering the exact
Conditions of tide and weather and
How the fish had fought, he following
Its capture line back to the jetty leaving
A trail of confused foot prints in curves
And swells across the untouched sand.
Then we’d walk back the jetty, and
He’d show me the spots from there,
Pointing to each as if it was
The one sure thing in the world, even
When hidden below the savagery
Of the tide pulled by a pale moon.
By David King
Copyright 2005 by David King.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry 360 with permission of the author.