Natasha Trethewey–Flounder

Here, she said, put this on your head.

She handed me a hat.

You ’bout as white as your dad,

and you gone stay like that.

 

Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down

around each bony ankle,

and I rolled down my white knee socks

letting my thin legs dangle,

 

circling them just above water

and silver backs of minnows

flitting here then there between

the sun spots and the shadows.

 

This is how you hold the pole

to cast the line out straight.

Now put that worm on your hook,

throw it out and wait.

 

She sat spitting tobacco juice

into a coffee cup.

Hunkered down when she felt the bite,

jerked the pole straight up

 

reeling and tugging hard at the fish

that wriggled and tried to fight back.

A flounder, she said, and you can tell

’cause one of its sides is black.

 

The other side is white, she said.

It landed with a thump.

I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,

switch sides with every jump.

 

2000

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