Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Eel Catching

A midnight fog lays down the land;
sucks quietly on the ploughed field,
wetly kisses the upturned sod,
whispers from the river mouth
the fetid smell of marsh decay.
The moon and stars, obscured by mist
stare upon other worlds tonight.
Time passes with no sense of motion.
The Earth lies still - except for me,
by the river, waiting for eels.

Now into this brackish reach the tide is running.
Sliding through underwater grass,
current tracers in the blind depth,
I can almost sense them: the eels are coming...
The small bell on the rod end rings,
I strike and take a fat one on -
shiny with slime, a liquid figure of eight.
I haul it to the bank, blackest in the blackness,
thrashing fiercely in the torchlight,
as if in tongues before the priest.

Later, as I walk through the wet grass
knee high by the silent river,
the eel still twists in the plastic bag
flapping briskly at my side.
On the back door step I do the act.
So much dark blood, like thick red oil,
flowing out toward the ground.
Still the eel moves in defiance,
blood without and blood within,
this deathless, lifeless thing.

c. Marc Woodward
Front Page 'Featured Work' 3/2010
First published in Otter - New Devon Poetry