Seagulls splinter the night
of salted squalls, driving rain
stinging our skin. I wish
I was more willing to stay
here with you than I am
but as lightning scripts clouds
and light bulbs buzz out
the dock shop shuts down.
Behind us the owner locks
the door and sloshes through
the parking lot to his truck, tires
already drowning. Get out of here,
he says, voice taken by wind.
His tires whine for traction
persistent drizzling from the mud ruts
as he spins out of dark water
to the black top a quarter mile north.
I tell you we should listen to him
and leave before the portage road floods.
You stay under the tin sheeted
cover and tell me we can wait out
the storm. One more bait check, you say.
You don’t leave bait on a hook, your father
told us a week before he died.
Smoke curls from the clay pit,
coals smoldering Styrofoam, aluminum,
all that fishermen had tossed in
when they rushed off the pier
upon the first breath of storm.
One of our lines zips. You stand,
walk into rain, fishing shirt now
skin tight with water, bottom three
buttons broken open, and grab
the rod. Your eye lids
slit tight to shield you from drops
slicing through. You pinch the post
with your Croc covered feet
to prepare for the fight as a wave
of tidewrack and fogged foam
gusts over the rail
shaking the dock and dousing
the remains of the fire. Embers
bubble their last heat in a large hiss
of smoke. I should be drenched
next to you, net in hand, to help
land what I know you can reel in
from this channel current, coarse
with deserted hooks and live bait bleeding.
This means one more cast, you say,
with a smile stretching up your face,
fishing pole bending double.
You wave me onto the watered dock,
and when I walk out from the cover,
shoes spitting drops with each step
I look around the corner to see water
suck down the last of your Tahoe tires
and I know we’re not leaving. After we
land your fish, I’ll cast my line, too,
and reel. We’ll cast and reel, cast again,
until clouds bottom out, until the moon
gutters down cast iron waters.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Troy Varvel is from Nacogdoches, TX, where he earned a BFA and MA in creative writing and English from Stephen F. Austin State University. Currently, he is a MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he is an assistant editor for Crab Orchard Review. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cape Rock: Poetry, Cigar City Poetry Journal, Constellations, Driftwood Press, Psaltery and Lyre, and That Literary Review, among others.