I took the boat out late at night.
My father used to tell me that the fish always bite best
By moonlight.

I loaded up the boat:
Food and drink, the cooler, a hat, a net, a pillow,
My trusty fishing rod,
A single worm for bait.

I freed the boat from its knotted ropes
Which dangled lifeless and untied,
Detached from the vessel they held
And confined to strict animation.

I attached the worm to the hook
And dropped the line in the water.
It was then—before I had started to paddle
And push off from the dock—
That the fish struck.

I dove to save my fishing rod
From joining the fish.
The strength of the fish astounded me
And I was drawn across the surface of my boat
Before I could right myself.
I was jerked back and forth,
The fishing rod quivering in my grip.
I pulled back hard and the fish splashed in the water,
The moon reflected on its scales.

The fish and I fought for hours.
It was determined to sink me in the watery depths,
And I was determined to bring it aboard.
Blisters appeared on my palms,
And the lake water mixed with the sweat on my brow caused by the hot, heavy air,
And I was afraid the hook would tear through the fish’s mouth.
Indeed, I thought I saw blood in the water several times,
A dark crimson hue which the water made
There were times when I was expertly playing the fish,
But there were times when I wondered
If the fish was playing me instead.
We battled on and the dawn broke.

Suddenly, the rod went slack
And dread gripped me.

I reeled the line in and the fish was gone.
And I was left with just the hook.

It was a long time before I could take the boat out again.