FISHING – by Arun

Years swim by my paper boat,
Scores of them at once,
Sun glancing off their armour
as they follow the stick oars
struggling to keep me on course.

There goes one, now:
I can see it, leaning over the gunwale,
oblivious as I am to the rocking of the deck
and the shuffling of my own frightened feet.

One inch closer, and I’ll have caught it.
Wow, just look at that specimen!
Some prefer photos. I prefer aquariums.

In fact I’m starting a new show this weekend
(All are invited to bring family, if any).
Let’s see if I can teach the old fish some new tricks.
I know what those critics’d say –
“Let them go, let them pass” –
But that’s no fun.

Many think seeing them right’s the hard part.
No, the trouble’s not there.
It’s in latching onto the wretched things.
With all that pathetic wriggling
you’d think they were worms.

And it’s not fair anyway:
They’re mine! My years! My fish!
I birthed them and I’ll death them.
I may not be a year myself
(I’m seventeen)
but I know they’re mine.

Enough talk. Let’s fish.
I throw out the nets and wait.
Two minutes, twenty days, one lifetime.
No problem, this is me here.
It’s only a matter of time before –

– Yes! Got one!
Look, it’s all tangled in the nets.
All I need to do is lean over

Too late. The paper dissolves.
I fall into the river.
I drown in my net,
but the dreams float away like plastic.
Funny to think I get eaten by a school of years.

Somewhere, a new fool sets out
on the same daft quest.
Some people never learn.


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