Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

James Wright: Northern Pike

All right.  Try this,
Then.  Every body
I know and care for,
And every body
Else is going
To die in a loneliness
I can’t imagine and a pain
I don’t know.  We had
To go on living.  We
Untangled the net, we slit
The body of this fish
Open from the hinge of the tail
To a place beneath the chin
I wish I could sing of.
I would just as soon we let
The living go on living.
An old poet whom we believe in
Said the same thing, and so
We paused among the dark cattails and prayed
For the muskrats,
For the ripples below their tails,
For the little movements that we knew the crawdads were making under water,
For the right-hand wrist of my cousin who is a policeman
We prayed for the game warden’s blindness.
We prayed for the road home.
We ate the fish.
There must be something very beautiful in my body,
I am so happy.


From the website of North Dakota State University. Included in Vox Populi for educational purposes only.

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Northern Pike

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