My mother is a fish. I have buried her three times already, but the water table is high

and she floats to the surface. I cleaned her, using scissors to cut anteriorly through the

bones attached to her pelvic fins, but I can’t cross the river while her cloudy eyes are

directed at the sky. The tackle box is full of the rusty hooks of untried catches. I take a

pitted sinker and use the fishing line to weigh down her fleshy isthmus. There is water

in my shoes but I can feel the stones rise beneath my feet.




Image: Fly fishing tackle box next to stream / Chesapeake Bay Program


OL227 cover

Read the rest of Overland 227

If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue

Or subscribe and receive
four outstanding issues for a year

Cassandra Atherton

Cassandra Atherton is an award-winning poet and the poetry editor for Westerly. She has been a Harvard Visiting Scholar, and a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University, Tokyo. Cassandra has published eight books, most recently the three-volume Sketch Notes. She has a Creative Victoria grant to write a prose poetry graphic novel on the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

More by Cassandra Atherton ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Related articles & Essays