Judith Bowles

The Fisherman


Uncle Charlie talked about water

as if it were a book he was reading. 

He told us what he saw, no,

what he found, there either

floating by his motorboat

or actually on his fishing line.

A horse's leg, two dead dogs,

a pocketbook full of money,

a sack of kittens, and then

I ran from the room. 

The Scioto River became

a story full of riddles.

He tipped his glass and the neck

of the beer bottle together

as if they were talking,

he said they were necking,

and the creamy top rose

and rose to his tongue

waiting against the glass

for the overflow.  Too much

time with his dogs Jack and Ebby

taught him to lap up the head

while he smiled his wide smile.

He didn't keep secrets, did not

even try, the way we did.

After my horse show he wanted

to know why I slumped

the minute the judges appeared

and at swim meets why I dove

deep off the side of the pool.

He said that I swallowed up

luck.  He'd learned from watching

I didn't want to win. No other grownup

talked to me like that.

Judith Bowles is Ohio-born, Duke-educated, New York-leavened, and Washingtonian by nature.  She earned her MFA from American University in short fiction where she has taught creative writing.  She writes after having taken a sabbatical from writing during eight years in Philadelphia where she studied horticulture. 



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