‘Hooker’ by Helen Bowell (Highly Commended – Poetry)

This poem by Helen Bowell was a highly commended finalist in our 2014 Inaugural Writing Competition.

* * *

We called her ‘the lucky fisherwoman’: she, the magic hook

that reeled them in from where they did not swim. In secret,

we’d watch the spools swoon and spin, light-threaded in her

presence, the fish almost grateful to be coaxed from the cold

seabed. That boat rocked. She hauled rainbow trout, sea bass,

salmon, their scales flashing the uncertain spectrum you catch

cross the surface of oil. She hated every fish. And we loathed

the stench, the shaking boat, the tail thump, thump, thump,

thump, those shocked gasps as they drowned in air. The murder.

  

They disgusted, most of all. Something rotting on the lips. She’d

feel the maggots squirm past her lucky hips and hold themselves,

stiffly, there. Still, she did it. My mother, lucky fisherwoman,

never let one get away, pulls another splasher from the water,

guts it fast. She couldn’t kid us for long: we know that hook

brought us up too. And maybe I’m imagining, but the buggers

just got slipperier and slipperier. Or maybe that was her.

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