and it wasn’t just that I was small, they were big, fat and beautiful.
On emergence, from the shaded tunnel, in our wooden boat we held them
high and watched their splintery silver-green, metallic forms manoeuvre
expertly within the new confines of a glass jam jar, that slipped
in our hands, and that was, with reluctance, tipped back into the flow.
I find myself with you in a long sleek boat, and way out to sea.
Gone is the yellow bamboo net; replaced with a brand new rod and reel.
Black lugworms, dug from smelly sand whilst waiting for the tide,
are in-expertly threaded onto large wire hooks and lowered into the blue.
Within no time I’m struggling with something that baptises my rod end,
and nearly me, but with steadying hands, my shouts of panic are replaced with joy.
Waking to a cool damp morning, I peer out across a narrow stretch of water.
The edge is alive with birds diving and dipping. Unexplained waves of rain
sweep across the glass surface, until with line and hook and broken whelk,
I cast over the weed into the melee, and pull out a purple tiger, whose skin
is soft and body so strong, that I struggle to hold its manic flapping form,
before the smack with long dark stone and the proud return home to the caravan.
We drive, it seems, for miles, past great places to fish, but you are strong,
explaining that the journey right out to the end of the pier will be worthwhile.
On opening the sliding door, our caravan fills with the overpowering stench
of fish guts and blood that cakes the stone harbour floor, steps and walls.
The place is a hive of casting rods, lines and hooks with feathers or flaps of
fresh bait: whipping out and coming back with the opalescent fish dangling.
Our boat is bigger and yet somehow smaller - we are fast growing into fishermen -
and the sea is open to our plunder, so woe betide fish when Cooper boys are about.
The engine chugs steadily, the heavy hull rides the swells and cuts the waves to reach
the cod banks - a place where only the most experienced boats venture. A place
where strange creatures are lured, octopus, gurnard and wide eyed pouting
a place where fishermen’s stories are made about huge cod and the odd boulder.