Friday Poem

Seeking The Hook

with its barbed point digging
into the soft palate behind my lower teeth
I am dragged along the mud and rock-strewn
bottom for forty feet, then pulled up
drawn toward the light as I twist and
yank my head side to side and the hook
lodges deeper in my mouth I taste
the blood a silent cry goes up through
my skull and it is all so quick I see
the surface a hand the light overwhelms
me, and I lunge a last time with the hook
ripping across my lips and I’m free
suddenly falling back gasping through
air then slipping beneath the surface
into the dim, green sweetness and
the flesh of my mouth throbbing water
flowing through me and yet slowly,
beyond thought or even the will
to survive, I feel myself turn and
go back, seeking the hook and it
is there again, waiting for me,
rigid and tiny, the hidden barb
like a beautiful lie, too powerful
for me to resist, so that later when
they lift me, strip me, tear my guts
out and present me cooked and
spread open, I will believe I am being
honored like a new king.

Lou Lipsitz
from Seeking the Hook
Signal Books, 1997