The Catfish Woman

by Joshua Gage

Patiently on these stones she unfolds
naked before the dusk,
and on the man-made shore
she holds court
here for one more hour.
 
She once was alluvious
and would carry reflections through the hills,
light with the bellies of clouds
and eager with the polish and pull
of the alabaster bowl of the moon.
 
Men do not heed her
walking along her banks
and edematous back.
She cajoles them when they sleep
in cold sheets against the echoes of the twilight.
 
But those are giddy taunts
of weeds and mirrored sunset
as her barbels swell —
Not as when a hungrier urge
of a later hour
 
will arise, the silhouette of a fish-brown nude
foretold in the lecanomancer's keen,
water of aegis,
from trout lilies, interminably,
upon its inconsolable hunt.



Joshua Gage is an ornery curmudgeon from Cleveland, His first full-length collection, breaths, is available from VanZeno Press. Intrinsic Night, a collaborative project he wrote with J. E. Stanley, is available from Sam's Dot Publishing. Bedtime Stories, his chapbook of fairy tale based poems, is scheduled to be released in the late summer of 2011 on Amsterdam Press. He is a graduate of the Low Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing at Naropa University and has a penchant for Pendleton shirts, rye whiskey and any poem strong enough to yank the breath out of his lungs. He stomps around Cleveland in a purple bathrobe where he hosts the monthly Deep Cleveland Poetry hour and enjoys the beer at Brew Kettle.

If he could only have one of his poems set to music, it would have to be "A Poet Woos His Love to √Čire" as a slow waltz performed by a lone soprano backed by a bodhran, fiddle, banjo, guitar, harp, uillean pipes, concertina, and maybe a whistle.

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