Feral – Gabrielle Langley

My uncle and his sons
have gone fishing.
Old school
to feel that struggle
at the end of one
barely visible line
that point
when the bait is taken
the cheek, hooked.

The men in my family teach
the boys how to pull
silver and blue
from the lakes and rivers
their jawlines set.

Where the women
the women tend
to stay inside
among the rows
of jam jars
and pot holders.
The women fish
behind the frill
of kitchen curtains.

This is the South
after all
and in 1964
I watched their
beautifully coiffed heads
the French twists
and humid tendrils
bend like flowers
over ponds

of dishwater.
Wearing the de rigueur
soft, elbow-length
Playtex gloves
they learn to protect
the pale pink polish.

They fish for
fractured teacups

lost spoons

and wedding crystal.

They learn to fish
using only the hooks
of their long fingers.

I, on the other hand
– not being one to fight with nature –
gave up on fishing a long time ago

taught myself
how to let the dishes
stack up

the architecture
of letting towers
build themselves.

I would go on to college
study French
terminate a pregnancy
leave for Europe
get married
get divorced
stay childless
by choice
and not necessarily
in that order.

So at this point in the story
I am wearing only
a silk slip
and blue satin shoes.

I use the leftover fishing line
to braid and pin my hair.

I leave the house
with my one true love.

We will dance
long past midnight
past those cobwebs in the yard
the pecan orchards
past the swamps and the cypress
long past the rains
the bayous and the tributaries
with all of their floods.

But just in case
my own
unborn daughter
wants to know
how to find me

I am leaving her
this trail
of broken twigs
of thorn
and wild jasmine.

GabrielleLangleyGabrielle Langley has been featured in the Huffington Post and the Houston Chronicle as one of Houston’s important emerging poets. She is a recipient of the Lorene Pouncey Award and Houston Poetry Fest’s Jury Prize. Her debut collection of poetry, Azaleas on Fire, will be released in March of 2019. Additional information about this poet can be found at www.gabriellelangley.com