This fisher has had far too much sun.
Nowhere to sit, she stands on her raft which is a thin broken biscuit
Floating on the tea of the sea.
The sun weighs down on her head like an iron press,
With nothing else better to do than to squeeze and burn her.
It claimed the colour from her hair long ago.
Turned her arms into dangling crisp bacon.
Turned her shoulders into bronze epaulettes of no rank or division.
Made her thin, her pot belly as hard as a pumpkin,
Her legs as stringy and black as liquorice sticks,
And skin so leathery you could line writing desks with it.
But every day she still went out – this fisher –
Waiting for her rod to twitch with fish so that she could return to her village the hero.
The sun waited with her. Patient and simmering,
As time and skin blistered, peeled, repaired, repeated, went raw again.
Then one morning …
Hoy! Her rod bends into an arc,
A bamboo rainbow between the raft and the sea.
The line goes TWANG and the surface ripples, froths, is ready to spew.
Quick to react she seizes the rod and bends her back,
Her bacon-y arms now taught and rippling with willing muscle,
Her shoelace legs like steel anchors fusing feet to raft.
She sucks in her belly, her abdominals are cubes of frozen tuna
Lined up on a chopping board, her sweat coming fast, wetting, glossing her,
Making her marble, a statue, a goddess, a hunter of the sea.
The sun becomes interested and pours heat on her like a furious kiln.
She ignores its spiteful baiting and struggles on with the fish.
Then her eyes bulge as the water breaks, and a shark erupts from the cold depths
Like a pale blue missile which lands on the raft with a boom that almost sinks her.
It writhes there for a moment, flipping and flopping, its teeth bared savagely,
A single black pupil throbbing in its socket that nails her to that bobbing drift of wood.
Exhausted, she watches the shark die. Her arms turn back to bacon, her legs to jelly.
Her belly pops out like a seed from a pod.
The sun is impressed and immediately sets about boiling her sweat…
But she’s seen too much of this cruel sun, has this fisher,
And she looks up at that moody blood orange in the sky and says:
Here, sun, see what I’ve done! A fish taken from its cold city,
And placed before the sky on a matchstick boat.
I ask you, oh mighty you, could you do this?
And the sun thinks could I? Should I?
A pensive sun. Enjoying this unexpected inquisition.
Then it blinks and has to close its eyes,
As an enormous white cloud chugs slowly by.
Time. Stilled for a while. Clouds are not to be hurried the elders say.
And when later the sky breaks and the sun looks again,
The fisher, the raft and the shark have all gone.
And the sun, deceived, vows to furiously torch all the gulls in the sky
That have the audacity to fly above the wake of the fisher
Who has long since moored her raft and summoned the children
To help drag the shark across the beach
For butchering up for the night of the feast.
The cool night that comes to put suns to sleep.
Words by the editor.