And I let the fish go.
            Elizabeth Bishop

I let him go
as if he were
a fish I’d let
slip into water.

Cupping him in
my hands, his silver
wriggling and spit,
the sun had caught

his wet, flecked skin,
his breath, no breath,
the opening, closing
of gills, that grin.

I had removed
the hook from which
he’d swung with such
momentous grace.

But wasn’t I snared?
That look, that flash
as I tossed him back,
alive, in air.


Elise Paschen, “Angling” from Infidelities. Copyright © 1996 by Elise Paschen. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Story Line Press, an imprint of Red Hen Press,