Above small fish with gaping mouths
we float, motor dead. The lake’s
warm as soup, noon glare blinking
off your glasses as you pull the starter cord.
One water bottle between us, little fuel,
no shade, no paddle, miles from shore,
the villages with their rough-sawn fishing boats,
young men asleep in huts,
AIDS melting their flesh–the lake
a highway for fishermen, smugglers, viruses.
And you, in your frayed hat, trying to save
the odd fish that live only here,
a biologist without sample jars or aquarium—
your limbs grow thinner, but you pretend
the weekend funerals have nothing
to do with you. Shadow of a huge perch
slips beneath the boat. The motor coughs, starts.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 19, Issue 2.
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