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A U G U S T   1 9 9 0

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by Stanley Plumly

Hear Stanley Plumly read this poem (in RealAudio).

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Stanley Plumly:
Naps (1998)
The Marriage in the Trees (1996)
Will Work for Food (1993)

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Pickerel have infinite, small bones, and skins
of glass and black ground glass, and though small for pike
are no less wall-eyed and their eyes like bone.
Are fierce for their size, and when they flare
at the surface resemble drowning birds,
the wing-slick panic of birds, but in those
seconds out of water on the line,
when their color changes and they choose for life,
will try to cut you and take part of your hand
back with them. And yet they open like hands,
the sweet white meat more delicate in oil,
to be eaten off the fire when the sun
is level with the lake, the wind calm,
the air ice-blue, blue-black, and flecked with rain.

Copyright © 1990 by Stanley Plumly. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; August 1990; In Answer to Amy's Question What's a Pickerel; Volume 266, No. 2; page 56.

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